According to some sources and researched by criminal law attorney Columbus, OH, social media is referenced in up to 80 percent of cases to create a case or perform an investigation. That's absolutely staggering, given that that number was at zero just years ago. Let's investigate how social media as a discipline impacts law enforcement, criminal investigation, community engagement, and criminal justice.
Crime & Inquiries
Social media has been a vital factor when it comes to solving crimes. Authorities are sharing images of the crime scene and video videos on Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds, and YouTube channels from the police department, getting the message out about recent incidents and open cases.
Police departments not only post content to help arrest offenders, but they also receive subpoenas for investigative purposes that enable them to go through private messages.
In certain cases, prosecutors are better able to develop and make a case by having access to the social media pages of offenders. It is not unusual for such private communications, like this reopened case by a Virginia court in 2012, to contain damning correspondence that clearly ties the defendant to the crime.
Outreach from the Government
Social networking can also be highly successful for law enforcement agencies as part of a community building and outreach campaign. One of the most active groups on Facebook is run by the Philadelphia Police Force and shares everything from surveillance video to officer spotlights to even critical emergency advisories, such as inclement weather and power outages.
Law enforcement is able to build on consistent interaction with those they protect and represent by providing the community with relevant knowledge about their city, state, or jurisdiction. They are ultimately able to turn their neighborhoods into extensions of their criminal justice systems through coherence and strategic messaging; their virtual eyes and ears through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media networks.
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