Hartselle Police Celebrate Success of Using Social Media Sites to Help Fight Crime
HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Tuscaloosa Police turned to social media sites when they were looking for a man suspected of firing a gun into a bar Monday night. They share the same approach to social media as Hartselle Police who have learned how to use social media to help fight crime.
Hartselle Police have had Facebook and Twitter accounts for two years and report lots of success, especially over the last six months.
“This woman and man, they were arrested and identified through Facebook,” said Lt. Justin Barley of the Hartselle Police Department, as her perused the department’s Facebook page.
He’s happy with the response it’s received.
“Not everybody watches the news or reads newspapers anymore,” said Barley. “Social media is the fastest way to get information out to a large amount of people.”
Tuscaloosa police posted surveillance video to their Facebook page showing a man who’s now been charged with attempted murder in a shooting that injured 17 people Monday night.
Hartselle Police have more than 1,400 Facebook fans.
All of those fans have the opportunity to share the information from Hartselle Police to their friends.
That could mean an infinite number of eyes on the streets helping out investigators.
“We believe that our citizens are responsible for how safe of a community we live in,” said Barley. “They play a role in that.”
And Barley admits citizens have played a big role through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
He says police have posted many surveillance pictures and photos of felony theft suspects over the two years they’ve had their sites and followers have helped them identify suspects within 24 hours.
“When we’ve exhausted all resources, we use it and it’s worked out really well,” said Barley.
The department has 111 followers on Twitter, not quite as popular as Facebook, but still helpful.
Barley points out social media allows investigators to control what information is released to the public and guarantee the accuracy of it.
He added the only inconvenience with social media is having to monitor it for any inappropriate posts, but police remove such posts quickly.
Barley insists the benefits of social media far outweigh any negatives of it.