Social media can be an excellent tool to bridge gaps between law enforcement and the community. Kearney, Nebraska, police recently trained in social media to improve transparency, communication, and be more engaged and informed.

The department hopes that their officers’ different personalities and perspectives will help to engage with people from all walks of life.

More than anything, though, the department wishes to explore the possibilities of using social media to fight crime. We are immersed in a digital world, and using the power of social media to solve cases has become a priority for law enforcement agencies around the world.

Law enforcement has been making waves with technology advances, and social media is playing a big part in this initiative. Data sharing via various social platforms has positively impacted the way investigations are handled. These, along with more advanced crime-fighting technologies, are changing the pace and methods of solving cases.

How does it work?

  • Social platforms have become the fastest ways to get an answer right away, put a name with the face, or get the potential location of a suspect without triggering alarm bells.
  • It allows the police to spread knowledge that can help find missing persons or catch suspects faster.
  • Social media plays an instrumental role in getting the word out during emergencies, such as a criminal on the loose or Amber Alerts.
  • Investigations have benefitted by linking information to social media pages without having to utilize the news media.
  • As the police are leveraging support from the community with social media to a greater degree, they are also able to match documentation with existing records and proceed with cases faster.
  • Leveraging social platforms allow the police to be quick and transparent with the community about what’s happening, while built-in data analysis is beneficial as well.
  • Social media offers a safe and public forum for people to ask questions and share tips. It is an easier and more accessible way to leave tips for ongoing cases without jamming phone lines.

Police departments that have been using social media as a part of their work claim it to be an economical and effective way to solve crimes and inform the community about current events.

Examples of what some departments have posted include video surveillance of suspects, pictures of stolen and recovered property, and a missing child’s photo and identifying information, all in an attempt to solve crimes faster.

Also, social has proven to be particularly useful in apprehending sex offenders. Social media activities and web transcripts related to child predators are now being used by investigators as valuable evidence for their police work and for legal use.

As more officers use social media as a work tool, it is imperative that they be adequately trained in how to legally use online sites and how to lawfully and ethically collect intelligence from various social platforms.