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The Role Of Social Media In Law Enforcement Offers Tips, Leads, And Community Responses

| November 12, 2013

SocialMediaInLawEnforcement from WAGM-TV on Vimeo.

Social media connects people with friends, colleagues, family, and even law enforcement.  That’s right, police departments are liking the way they’re able to utilize online networks. Here’s a look at how social media plays a role in law enforcement.

It’s information that can be shared, liked, and even helpful. Whether it’s the police department making a post, or someone with a tip, social media has evolved into a crime fighting tool in some ways.

Police Chief of Presque isle Matt Irwin says,  “On facebook we get tips about crime, we get tips about drug usage, we get tips about all kinds of stuff.”

Chief Irwin likes it.  Not only for the tips, but for the ability for a community to now express itself. Residents can even help with the public safety aspect.

Irwin,  “When people have warrants for their arrest we’ve gotten some information from people on facebook about where these people might be located.”

Chief Irwin says a case that he posted some information on last week caught a little heat.  Irwin, “There was some intended humor about the way the caption was written, it certainly wasn’t intended to enflame people.”

That post did get lots of responses which Chief Irwin says kind of turned into a “what’s acceptable or not” type of situation.

Irwin says,  “It makes me think about things like was I too uncomplimentary about the person that we arrested or that we charged, or was it about right or did I nail it.”

Social media can help in more ways that crime and tips.   Last week in Scarborough, a local resident on an unnamed online forum wrote about their plan to commit suicide. A man in the UK saw the post and contact Scarborough police on facebook. Police were able to avert that suicide attempt.  For that, perhaps utilizing facebook can be described as a public service tool.

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