Law enforcement fighting crime using social media

- More than 2.3 billion people use social media worldwide.  That number is expected to climb to 2.95 billion by 2020.  

But social media is not just for socializing anymore. It is being used more and more for marketing and now helping cops do their jobs better. 

You probably wouldn't expect to find a television studio in the middle of the Marion County Sheriff's Office, but the small set-up allows the Sheriff's Office and the Ocala Police Department to make recruiting videos.   In Brevard County, Sheriff Wayne Ivey hosts a Facebook video called "Wheel of Fugitive."  

Both are part of the growing social media mission of Central Florida law enforcement agencies. 

Marion County has about 200 deputies out on patrol, around 30 detectives investigating crimes, and one social media expert on the Internet.  Her name is Valerie Strong and her job here may be as important as anyone's at the Sheriff's Office.

"Every day a detective reaches out wanting something posted on Facebook," she explains.  

We're not talking status updates but new ways to fight crime. 

"We didn't see the value of it in law enforcement at the time and didn't take it seriously," said Marion County Sheriff Emery Gainey. 
 
They do now.  It's helped them nab criminals and help in finding missing people.  
 
In January of this year, when a teenager with autism went missing, the Sheriff's Office posted a photograph on their Facebook page. It tool about a half-hour for someone to see and find her. 
 
"Checked their phone, saw our flier on our Facebook, looked out and saw her sitting on a bench," said Strong.  "Called it in, and we were there to pick her up."
 
"We have seen great saves all over this nation where individuals have instantly been reported as found by someone as a result of social media," Sheriff Gainey said. 
 
 
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On the web:

MARION CO. SHERIFF'S OFFICE FACEBOOK PAGE

SOCIAL MEDIA USEAGE STATISTICS
 

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