Social media proves effective crime-fighting tool for MPD
Crime fighting is the primary goal for most any law enforcement agency, but as budgetary constraints and methods of criminal activity evolve, so does the availability of effective and affordable crime-fighting resources. With the onset of social media popularity, many agencies across the nation have taken full advantage of various social media networks and the low-cost resource they provide.
The Merrill Police Department has been on-board with social media since 2011 and as Chief Corey Bennett explains, the department has found it to be a very effective crime-fighting resource.
“There’s been dozens of cases over the years where we have turned to social media and help from the public to solve, and in turn those efforts have proven very successful for us,” Bennett explains.
“I would say we have been close to 100% with clearing those cases, thanks to the help of our Facebook page followers. But there has also been times when we have asked for help in identifying an individual not necessarily due to a crime being committed, but just to make contact with that person for various reasons. It could be a matter of discussing a particular case we are working on, or in the event of a gas skip, to simply assist the gas station in recovering payment.”
Types of cases where the department has sought assistance via social media include various types of theft, fraud and damage to property.
As Bennett further explains, officers and investigators first seek to identify persons of interest internally. If unsuccessful, photographs or surveillance footage may be posted on the MPD Facebook page with a request for assistance in identifying the individual(s) depicted.
“More often than not, the person or persons we are seeking to contact have been identified within a matter of days thanks to our followers. As a result of posting on our Facebook page, we have either received information outright identifying the person or received accurate information which led to the person being identified,” Bennett adds.
“In some cases the number of people our posts have reached have climbed into the thousands, due to people sharing and re-posting. That quick of a turnaround is just phenomenal.”
Crime fighting isn’t the only value social media has brought to the department, the network has also proven valuable as a public communication resource.
From getting information out to the community regarding weather alerts and emergencies, to raising awareness of department and community events, Facebook has proven an effective means of disseminating information in a timely manner, at no cost.
While several officers are Facebook page administrators, the page is not staffed 24/7. Those with information about a crime, or seeking to report a crime in progress are asked to avoid contacting the department via Facebook, but rather contact the Merrill Police Department via phone (715) 536-8311, Lincoln County Crime Stoppers (715) 536-3726 or utilize the new Crime Stoppers p3 app via phone or other device.