Social media continues to expand its already vast presence on the internet. The most prominent social media vehicle out there right now is Facebook. Everyday numerous of people, organizations, and company are jumping on the Facebook bandwagon, now including law enforcement agencies.
What originally started as an experiment, the Medina Police Department, Ohio, is now utilizing Facebook to help solve crimes and obtain suspects. This has started a trend with all law enforcement agencies across Northeast Ohio. Fans of the agencies Facebook pages are calling in tips and suspects are turning themselves in.
The Medina Police Department has a total of 2,000 fans that can view their page and statuses. What is gathering the most attention is the Department’s “Photos” page. Here fans of the department can browse through an assortment of mugshots of suspects with active arrest warrants.
The Medina Police Chief Patrick Berarducci was even invited to speak in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington D.C. to discuss his department’s use of social media. Beraducci told Senator Patrick Leahy that Facebook is actually helping the department save money.
Geauga County Sheriff Dan McClelland is also utilizing Facebook in Ohio to help track down fugitives. McClelland’s personal profile page now includes 200 pictures of pictures and information of individuals that are wanted for civil warrants. The crimes and convictions include contempt, traffic issues, and unpaid child support.
This is the first step in attempt to post all 1,100 civil warrants on his page. The hope is fugitives will turn themselves in or people who know them will inform the deputies based on seeing their picture on Facebook. So far, one person has turned himself in and another has called in asking how to get his picture removed from the site.
McCelland’s page also contains still pictures from surveillance cameras of cars and suspects involved in unsolved crimes. The Facebook page provides a constant reminder where the criminals and friends of the criminal can always go check to see if they know anyone.
Are social media websites such as Facebook, more law enforcement agencies should consider? It may not be considering a traditional method in solving crimes and catching criminals. Although, it does make sense considering the massive population Facebook has and is continuing to accumulate. Is this going to continue to be a growing trend? And is it effective enough to compensate for time that could be spent elsewhere? What are your thoughts?