Social media helps police investigations
SUNBURY – Facebook and Twitter are becoming very important tools for police investigating various crimes. Social media is changing the way police investigate crimes, according to Sunbury Police Chief Stephen Mazzeo.
Mazzeo said, “They have expanded our opportunities to positively interface with the public. They have created additional avenues for us for investigations. It is a new way for us to do outreach in the community and to interface with especially the younger members of our society.”
Mazzeo says social media has helped them solve crimes. Mazzeo explained, “Without betraying too many of the investigative secrets that our officers use, all the social media sites are a goldmine for us for investigative purposes. He continued, “They have assisted us in many cases in data mining and in determining the outcome of an investigation.”
Mazzeo said, “It is critical that everyone understand that once it is out there digitally, it is out there forever. There is no real way to hide it. Once you put something out there it is there forever.”
However, social media can also create problems for the police department. Mazzeo explained, “It has created a whole raft of Facebook and Twitter harassment issues, which has increased our call volume. It is impossible to determine who is on the other end of that digital connection, until you actually meet them in person. It’s made it extremely easy for predators to prey upon children and for individuals to discover all sorts of personal information about people.”
Chief Mazzeo says Facebook also makes people vulnerable to crime. He explained, “Don’t put your deepest secrets out there. Don’t put when you are going on vacation because criminals now use that to burglarize houses. Don’t put out anything that makes you vulnerable to a predator.”
Police departments all across the country have included social media as an important part of their training. Mazzeo said, “District Attorney Tony Rosini has been very instrumental in the training of different departments in the county. He brought some very good experts in. It is something that, at least for the foreseeable future, will be with us for a long time to come.” (Ali Stevens)