With every Facebook comment, every like, and every tweet, social media has become a part of our daily lives. According to a recent survey by LexisNexis, 83 percent of people believe platforms like Twitter and Facebook help them make new friends. For law enforcement, it is the same way.
"If we want to have a working relationship with those people, we have to find a way to communicate. Using Facebook is an efficient way to do that," said Steven Murphy, Hastings Police sergeant.
A survey of federal, state and local law enforcement professionals says that 67 percent believe social media helps solve crimes more quickly.
"We've selected some people who have outstanding warrants and published their photos; and we've received quite a bit of information for where these people could be located. In about 11-out-of-15 cases, we've been able to locate the person and they've been arrested," said Murphy.
Close to 50 percent of respondents use social media at least every week in relation to their positions.
"We're using it for the purpose of obtaining information regarding criminal violations. We're also utilizing it to communicate with the public," said Dan Warrington, investigator for Kearney Police Department.
Eighty-seven percent of respondents agree that search warrants utilizing social media can hold up in court when challenged.
"We've actually gotten comments from the people saying ‘yeah, that was me' where they actually admitted to it [the crime]. To me, [that] give us a stronger case," said Murphy.
With social media developing the way it is, law enforcement officials say it is becoming a tool; a tool that helps them further connect with the community they serve.
"We see social media as a way to contact a group of people that might get their information over the Internet," said Murphy.
Seventy percent of departments say they prefer Facebook over Twitter because of it having the most visual image than other social media networks.