Law Enforcement Using Social Media to Catch Criminals

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By Brittany Bivins

There are more than 1 billion people on Facebook all across the world, according to Facebook officials. That includes local law enforcement.
More agencies than ever are using social media to connect with residents and put criminals behind bars.

Many local police departments say they don't mind spending a little bit of extra resources on social media, because they say it's getting results.

Almost 2,000 people like the Tallapoosa County town of Camp Hill's Police Department on Facebook.

That's about 500 more than the number of people living in Camp Hill.

The town employs 7 full-time police officers, but it updates its Facebook page several times a day.

"If we have big news, that is the first thing that goes on there, but we also try to put jokes and law enforcement videos and memes up, just to give someone a smile in the day, too," said Lt. Nathan White.

He says that's a big reason police work so hard to keep up with social media so people here will know and trust them more. He says it also helps them fight crime--big and small.

"We had people to turn themselves in on traffic fines that were three and four years old, because they didn't want to show up on Facebook," White said.

Many other law enforcement agencies in our area, from Autauga to Tallpoosa sheriff's offices, have Facebook pages.

"It's reaching out to more people to assist us and also providing information to the public about things they may be on the lookout for, or if we've had a crime in that area, we want to make sure that somebody gets that information," said Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett.

It doesn't just help fight crime.

"Especially the weather-related conditions. We used it a lot the last couple of weeks and we've had a very good, positive response. It's been very positive feedback," Abbett said.

The Tallapoosa County Sheriff's Office says they aren't only on Facebook. They're also expanding their social media efforts through Twitter.

According to a survey by computer research firm Lexis Nexis, 4 out of 5 law enforcement agencies use social media in some way. Three-quarters of those who don't plan to start within the next year.



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