Using Social Media To Solve Crimes

September 19, 2017

Using Social Media To Solve Crimes

by Ian D Scofield

Social media is a major part of the modern life and it has been put to many different purposes.  One of those is recruiting but social media can be put to a higher purpose than that.  Utilizing social media websites like Facebook and Twitter can help detectives and other investigators solve crimes.  Want to see how your department can leverage the internet to solve crimes, then keep reading.

Most departments have probably already learned the importance of checking Facebook profiles (along with other social media) can be used to find any number of pieces of evidence.  From motive to confessions, they have all been found by searching social media profiles.  You can do more with social media than just reading profiles though.  The power of the people is an important thing.

Posting arrests and other police incidents to social media has become a popular way to deter crime.  A simple post with the incident and the outcome helps criminals to realize that the police is taking action and the more locations that they see the incident in, the less crimes will be committed.  Seeing the hard work of the police might make an offender slightly more likely to turn themselves in too.

Puyallup Police Department (WA.) recently took to Twitter and Facebook to help solve the disappearance of Misty Copsey.  A portion of the effort revolves around posting old photographs of Misty along with quotes like “to this day I have never been found. Please help bring me home.”   Copies of the original missing persons flyer has also been posted to Twitter.

One thing that makes the efforts of PPD so unique is they tried something different.  Most of the Twitter posts were done in the point of view of Misty writing the posts.  It helps to personalize the posts and connect with anyone that may be reading them, including the potential offender.

The department has also made their profile pictures a picture of Misty Copsey to help solve the crime.

Want to see PPD’s efforts for yourself?  Here is there Facebook and Twitter pages.

Another way to help the public contribute to catching criminals is to post surveillance videos and pictures to social media.  This way, people can see the offenders in action.  Multiple police departments have already tried this with great success.  Take a look at Philadelphia PD for an example of this.

Have a victim that you can’t identify?  Maybe a witness?  Posting a picture to social media can allow you to look for someone who knows the person.  It is a quick way to spread the word.  It is important that you ensure that people know the person is a victim or witness and not an offender.  Having an identity can get you one step closer to solving a crime though.

As long as you use social media like any other user, the tool is free.  You don’t even need to apply for a warrant unless you are attempting to access the backend of someone else’s account.  In most cases that isn’t even needed to make use of social media.

It is important that you talk with the higher powers at your department to get the use of social media approved as a criminal investigation tool.  Some departments might want to vet the use, some may not want to use, and others may want to develop policies so that the usage of social media is controlled.

Social Media might just be a way for most people to interact and share their day to day lives.  But for Police Departments, it can become an important tool that can and will help to solve crimes.  Use the above tips to turn social media into a modern form of Crime Stoppers.  You never know what cases you can close with the help of the public.  Stay safe out there, and solve more crimes.

 

 

About The Author:

Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice.  He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer.  At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content.  Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.

 





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