ANDERSON Co., SC (WSPA) – As social media grows, it’s become a game changing tool for law enforcement across the country. In the Upstate, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page is the most popular sheriff’s office page, which has helped them catch numerous suspects this week.
On Wednesday, the TD Bank on Main Street was robbed; but surveillance captured a photo of the suspect. Stephen Combs, the media relations coordinator for the Sheriff’s Office, posted the photo to the department’s Facebook page that night.
“Within an hour we had tips about who the identity of this suspect was and within four hours we had warrants and were able to apprehend him. He contacted us and said I’d like to turn myself in,” Combs said.
This isn’t the only example of social media helping solve crime just this week. On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office launched their new “Most Wanted” site listing the top ten fugitives in the county. By Friday, four of them had either contacted the department or been apprehended.
So with the power of social media, it’s changing the way investigators look at crimes. One tells 7News that he knows when there is video or a good picture that within moments of getting it out to the public, they will start receiving tips, which speeds up their process in closing a case.
“People just want to be involved and help us and this is their way to get involved,” said Detective Heath Davis with Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
With different platforms, there are different uses. The sheriff’s office will use LinkedIn to recruit potential new hires, Instagram to target a younger population, Facebook to hit the middle age demographic then Twitter to reach news outlets and other agencies. Even emergency management utilizes social media with Twitter and Facebook to send out warnings during an emergency situation.
The key is that the departments don’t just use it to put out the bad information, but they also share the good. It’s an opportunity for them to engage with the community and have a two-way conversation instead of just putting out the information.