Evolution of Policing: Part 3

Catching Criminals Through Social Media

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We’ve shown you how social media has helped Northland police build a positive relationship with the community, but what about the criminals?

Superior Police Chief Nick Alexander says since his department started asking for help solving crimes on Facebook, they’ve had a great deal of success.

“My guess is it’s well over 75% of the time we post information seeking help that we receive something back that allows us to bring a case to conclusion,” explained Chief Alexander.

The Duluth and Superior Police Departments credit the broad reach of social media.

In fact, they’ve had posts reach well over 40,000 people.

“People will share this and they will share it and it goes so far beyond just his aream” said Officer Ron Tinsley with the Duluth Police Department.

Both departments have the option of submitting anonymous tips and the officers can start an investigation.

“It allows people to actually contact me through messaging,” Officer Tinsley said of Facebook.

“Social media too, is more interactive, so and arguably can be more up to the minute,” said Rob Weidner PhD, associate professor and department head of Sociology and Anthropology for the University of Minnesota – Duluth.

An example Chief Alexander gave of that was posting on Facebook when there was a bomb scare at UW-Superior.

“It immediately went up on Facebook, so people started seeing that right away and we were asking people to stay away, we talk about that there’s going to be some evacuations,” Chief Alexander explained of the incident.

The hope was to spread calm and alert people.

The package turned out to be spoiled meat, but a funny post was the chance to educate the public on the seriousness of the subject.

“Proudly protecting the citizens from evil meat since 2015,” Chief Alexander recalled, “Why post–9/11 we have to take suspicious packages seriously.”

It’s solving crimes, catching the bad guys and protecting the public these officers want to achieve, and social media has become a key tool in helping them do all those things.

Department Social Media Links:

Duluth:

Facebook: facebook.com/Duluth-Police-Department
Twitter: @DuluthMNPolice
YouTube: Ronald Tinsley
Instagram: duluth_police

Superior:

Department Facebook: facebook.com/SuperiorPD
Chief Alexander Facebook: facebook.com/Superior-Police-Chief-Nicholas-Alexander

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