Using Social Media to Benefit Law Enforcement

March 13, 2012 — 1,485 views  
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Social media websites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, have become an invaluable tool for many fields, and law enforcement is no exception. A September 2011 survey conducted by the International Association of Police Chiefs (IACP) found that among 800 law enforcement agencies in 49 U.S. states, 88.1 percent of them used social media in some capacity.

Investigatory purposes stood out as the most significant use of social media by law enforcement professionals, employed by 71.1 percent of respondents. Other prominent law enforcement tasks in which the medium proved beneficial included intelligence, increasing public awareness of crime and safety concerns, community outreach and crime prevention, respectively used among 56.6, 49.9, 47.2 and 45.6 percent of those surveyed.

According to Mashable, information collected from social media websites can help identify criminal suspects quickly and efficiently, particularly when used in conjunction with surveillance videos and similar media. However, as social media can still be considered a new channel, its use by police and investigators is likely to be scrutinized by many, especially in relation to privacy concerns.

Despite this, if you're currently employed in law enforcement or are hoping to be, it will be extremely valuable to your career and your agency's investigatory success to consider the benefits of employing social media - if that has not already happened.