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Wherever criminals go, police must follow. Over the past few years, social media has become a destination for information sharing. Believe it or not, criminals share quite a bit on these websites, making it easier for police to track down the offenders. Police officers and detectives often don’t even need to go undercover to find evidence of crimes, because the information can be accessed from anyone with an account.
In a recent article, CNN covered the different strategies police departments have created to leverage social media:
One pioneer in this emerging area is the city of Cincinnati, where police dismantled a local street gang and arrested 71 people in 2008 following a large nine-month investigation that used social media to identify key members. Collaborating with the University of Cincinnati's Institute of Crime Science, the police created databases of information scraped from social networks, existing police records and phone records, then used software to analyze the data and establish links between suspects.
As with most police departments, Cincinnati's social-media efforts began small, with a few officers checking online profiles on their downtime. Then police teamed up with the university and received training from social-media experts.
Read Police embrace social media as crime-fighting tool on CNN.
The infographic below provides a snapshot of how law enforcement officers perceive social media as a tool and how they implement it in their daily work.