Just this week, six cases have been cleared by Carrollton Police Department because a resident saw the department’s videos posted on Facebook and identified the suspects. The department has had a Facebook page for more than two years, and Officer Glenn Lyle, who monitors and posts on the department’s social media accounts, said more than a dozen crimes have been solved through social media.
Carrollton police have posted 113 videos on the department’s YouTube account, with a total of more than 150,000 views. These videos get posted onto the Facebook account, which boasts almost 2,700 “likes,” and get shown in the public safety office’s lobby. Once a case is cleared, the videos are either taken down or have comments put on them to denote their being cleared.
The videos are mainly surveillance videos that show subjects committing various crimes, mostly shoplifting, check forgery, theft by taking and burglary.
“Our line of thinking was that there wasn’t a drawback to this,” Lyle said of utilizing social media. “It doesn’t cost anything, and who knows, we might get lucky.”
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office has a Facebook page with more than 2,200 “likes,” or people who follow and get updates from their posters. The sheriff’s office started its Facebook about a month after Carrollton police, in September 2010.
“It has proven to be a very handy tool,” Capt. Jeff Richards said. “We get better responses from things like lookouts and missing persons. We’ve gotten a lot of intelligence for investigations that way.”
Richards said the sheriff’s office has gotten the most success from private messages coming through Facebook.
“We’ll get a lot messages in our Facebook inbox, and some of them turn into arrests,” Richards said. “People will message us and say, ‘What about this group or this guy?’ and give us information about crimes they think have been committed, and we use them like any other lead.”
The police department also utilizes Twitter, a micro-blogging service that is used by fewer people than Facebook. Still, the department has 319 followers, who receive identical updates as those who like the Facebook page.
Lyle, of the Carrollton police Crime Prevention Unit, also heads up the department’s community outreach program, which he saw as a natural fit.
“These people are out in the community, and everyone’s talking, and everyone knows everyone else,” Lyle said. “Using Facebook seemed like a natural fit for us.”
The local move to social media mirrors that of other police departments across the country — even the New York Police Department.
On Tuesday, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced plans to beef up the NYPD’s cyber crackdown by expanding the use of aggressive online investigative tactics, the Associated Press reports.
“By capitalizing on the irresistible urge of these suspects to brag about their murderous exploit son Facebook, detectives used social media to draw a virtual map of their criminal activity over the last three years,” the commissioner said.
Visit the Carrollton Police Department’s social media sites at www.facebook.com/carrolltonpd and www.youtube.com/carrolltongapolice. Visit the sheriff’s office site at www.facebook.com/Carroll-County-Sheriffs-Office. CPD also an anonymous tip website at www.tipsubmit.com. Just follow the directions on the main site to get to a submission form that will be sent to a CPD investigator.