Police always have guns, handcuffs and badges, but now some of them have something else to use everyday to help them fight crimeÂ—social networks. Over 40 police departments across the United States have started using YouTube to help solve crimes. Philadelphia, Detroit, Huston, and Baltimore are just some of the big cities that are catching criminals through various social networking sites. Philadelphia police reported that YouTube videos helped them solve 85 cases since February 2011. They have a "Video Villains" program that posts unsolved crime surveillance videos hoping for tips and it's working!
"We are at the forefront; we are pushing the envelope," says Philadelphia police Lt. Ray Evers. "We have had great success in having the public help us solve crime."
Many of the police stations have their own channels on Google's famous video sharing site. By posting videos the police can give the media instant access and allow the information to spread quickly as well as be accessible to the public so they can call and give tips. With everyone having access to the videos, the phone calls have definitely increased and once again technology has helped the police departments deal with that. The officers post updates on Twitter and Facebook so that everyone has the latest information at the same time. The only phone calls coming in are for tips, no one has to call and get updates because they can just check Twitter or Facebook.
Social networking technology is helping police work more efficiently and in the long run that leads to solving more cases. Currently, it's the robbery and public assault cases that have benefited the most from the use of social network sites, but missing person cases are also seeing more progress as well. In the case of Baltimore and Detroit, both on the top ten list of cities with high crime, they can use all the help they can get. For cities like, Flint and St. Louis, who also have high crime but are not yet using social networking, there are now special trainings for police departments and social media. From using social media for hiring, to protecting your personal identity, to using social media to solve crime, the trainings show police departments the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to social media. For now, it looks like using social networks is doing more good than harm for many police stations and more and more cities will be adding on social networking to their tools for the job.
Does your local police station have a YouTube channel? If so, how often do you check it?