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At one point or another we’ve all thought about how cool it would be to become a police officer. As small children we’d play cop and robber, going around the house with our hands cupped together making a play gun, cautiously looking around the corner before springing forward in laughter. Unfortunately, the dreams of rocking a holster and steel-toe boots are long gone, but not completely lost…
In a world where social media is connecting people twenty-four hours a day, it’s no surprise that the use of these platforms have caught the eye of police precincts. From Philadelphia to Michigan, and Austin, these cities and state have used social media to not only solve crimes and missing persons, but they’ve also integrated the community in the process.
Facebook has been a tool many police departments have used to solve murder cases. In West Michigan, police came across Facebook pictures of a suspect posing with a gun he used to kill his classmate. In a separate incident, police were able to use Facebook chats as evidence in a stabbing case between two friends.
The site isn’t being used just to gain evidence to put people behind bars. The Philadelphia police department is one of many that has their own Facebook page where suspect pictures are posted to generate tips. Using the police Facebook page, Philly citizens are weaved into the process to help catch law-breakers, which they’ve accomplished successfully. In one case, the police made an arrest within sixteen minutes after posting the suspects picture to the their page.
Safe to say, it wouldn’t be the wisest choice to pose with the weapons you use to kill someone to boast online with a posted Facebook picture, but these days over sharing is a lot of people’s MO.
YouTube is yet another big resource cops use to post surveillance videos of armed robberies. Philly police have posted 225 videos to YouTube with 1.5 million views, leading to 65 arrests. Due to the fact that police resources are so limited because of the economy, taking advantage of posting these videos gives the police extra eyes and potential tips.
The people get to dip their toes in playing detective, collaborating with police on a social level to stop those from wrongdoing. This “working” relationship helps to mend the stereotype that law enforcement is above the people. While the scifi days of Minority Report are light years away, police having their “eyes” everywhere certainly feels a bit futuristic.
Think about the significant advantages police would have using a social media monitoring tool like Brandwatch. And on an even larger scale the possibilities of how it could be implemented on a Government level are astronomical. Having the ability to do Boolean searches to identify slang words, lumping people into demographics or even narrowing down conversations by location filters are just a few gems these officers in blue could add to their arsenal of crime-fighting tools.