How Law Enforcement Uses Social Media

I’ve seen a fair share of social media posts containing incriminating images of everything under the sun. You may think social media is a safe haven for self-expression. Think again.

What you post can land you in jail. Many police departments are experimenting with social media to help catch criminals.

The folks at LexisNexis and PoliceOne have created an infographic that explains how law enforcement uses social media.

How Law Enforcement Uses Social Media

The Missing Persons Report. 4 out of 5 officers use social media for investigative purposes. Other uses include community outreach, soliciting crime tips, notifying the public and recruitment.

The Search Warrant. When challenged, social media as evidence for search warrants holds up in court.

What Investigative Activities Are Done Via Social Media:

  • 75% Identify associates affiliated with persons of interest
  • 70% Identify location of criminal activity
  • 60% Gather photos of statements to corroborate evidence
  • 80% Identify criminal activity
  • 85% Identify persons of interest
  • 55% Identify/monitor persons of interest’s whereabouts
  • 30% Soliciting tips on crimes
  • 32% Anticipating crimes that may be occurring
  • 40% Understanding criminal networks
  • 25% Use info from social media as probable cause for search warrants

80% of law enforcement professionals are self-taught when it comes to using social media for investigations

Infographic

 

Social-Media-Infographic-Juntae-DeLane

 

Do you know of any stories where law enforcement used social media to catch a criminal? Please share. Post them in the comments section.


  • Bc Icedog

    great but why don’t they investigate the animal abusers?

  • Bc Icedog

    great but why don’t they investigate the animal abusers?

  • Frank Domizio
  • Frank Domizio
  • Ajay Rulz

    Great article Juntae 🙂

  • Ajay Rulz

    Great article Juntae 🙂

  • Danielle Simpson

    Working in the legal field I have seen many offenders caught by posting on social media. I have seen, heard and worked on cases were they posted with the items allegedly stolen, they have documented their whereabouts while under investigation, or sometimes even taking advantage of social media by robbing homes where people have posted they are away. If the rest of the word uses social media it is safe to believe law enforcement and criminals themselves are using it well. Great article.

    • Great testimonial! Thanks for reading and commenting Danielle. I look forward to future engagements.

  • Danielle Simpson

    Working in the legal field I have seen many offenders caught by posting on social media. I have seen, heard and worked on cases were they posted with the items allegedly stolen, they have documented their whereabouts while under investigation, or sometimes even taking advantage of social media by robbing homes where people have posted they are away. If the rest of the word uses social media it is safe to believe law enforcement and criminals themselves are using it well. Great article.

    • Great testimonial! Thanks for reading and commenting Danielle. I look forward to future engagements.

  • Scott Wagner

    I’ve always found it fascinating the breadcrumbs that criminals leave behind on social media. One area where many police departments are deficient is their ability to use social media for community out reach. In the wake of the tragedy in Ferguson Missouri, mistrust of law-enforcement has been a problem for many communities. Social media is the best tool for building trust and credibility in the community. A great example of the successful use of social media for community outreach is the Mountain View Police Department in California http://mountainviewpoliceblog.com, @MountainViewPD

    • Hi Scott. You mention a good point regarding alternative uses for social media by law enforcement. I’ll be sure to check out the MVPD Blog. Thanks for sharing.

    • Tony Moore

      Hi Scott, you are exactly right. I agree law enforcement must communicate with the public more and there is no clearer mishap then the Ferguson, Missouri incident. I know I am doing my part working for a large so cal agency to increase the public trust, but also on my own time via Lawenforcement.social and Cops on Blab via Blab.im.

      • Scott Wagner

        Hi Tony,
        I took a look at the lawenforcement.social website. What a terrific idea and excellent resource. I followed on twitter and Instagram as well. I also listened to the podcast. Good information, but one comment that I intend in the most constructive way. It was a little long-winded. More than ninety minutes is a lot of time to invest in any podcast on a regular basis. You may want to consider tightening things up a bit. I also recommend you follow the blog of Melissa Agnes (http://melissaagnes.com/blog/). She is an internationally known crisis communications expert that deals regularly with topics that may interest you.

        Thanks for devoting your own time to this worthwhile project that every community can benefit from. Best wishes in 2016!

        • Tony Moore

          Hi Scott, I agree once again. I’ve told Mike Bir res he needs to keep shows under 1hour. He’said stubborn..lol As for blab, We were on last night for 4 hours!!! Took questions from CopBlock to general q&a. What a thrill ride!
          I know Melissa and yes she does a phenomenal job. We spoke together at #LESM online conference.

          Sir have a happy and safe 2016. Look forward to more dialogue!

  • Scott Wagner

    I’ve always found it fascinating the breadcrumbs that criminals leave behind on social media. One area where many police departments are deficient is their ability to use social media for community out reach. In the wake of the tragedy in Ferguson Missouri, mistrust of law-enforcement has been a problem for many communities. Social media is the best tool for building trust and credibility in the community. A great example of the successful use of social media for community outreach is the Mountain View Police Department in California http://mountainviewpoliceblog.com, @MountainViewPD

    • Hi Scott. You mention a good point regarding alternative uses for social media by law enforcement. I’ll be sure to check out the MVPD Blog. Thanks for sharing.

    • Tony Moore

      Hi Scott, you are exactly right. I agree law enforcement must communicate with the public more and there is no clearer mishap then the Ferguson, Missouri incident. I know I am doing my part working for a large so cal agency to increase the public trust, but also on my own time via Lawenforcement.social and Cops on Blab via Blab.im.

      • Scott Wagner

        Hi Tony,
        I took a look at the lawenforcement.social website. What a terrific idea and excellent resource. I followed on twitter and Instagram as well. I also listened to the podcast. Good information, but one comment that I intend in the most constructive way. It was a little long-winded. More than ninety minutes is a lot of time to invest in any podcast on a regular basis. You may want to consider tightening things up a bit. I also recommend you follow the blog of Melissa Agnes (http://melissaagnes.com/blog/). She is an internationally known crisis communications expert that deals regularly with topics that may interest you.

        Thanks for devoting your own time to this worthwhile project that every community can benefit from. Best wishes in 2016!

        • Tony Moore

          Hi Scott, I agree once again. I’ve told Mike Bir res he needs to keep shows under 1hour. He’said stubborn..lol As for blab, We were on last night for 4 hours!!! Took questions from CopBlock to general q&a. What a thrill ride!
          I know Melissa and yes she does a phenomenal job. We spoke together at #LESM online conference.

          Sir have a happy and safe 2016. Look forward to more dialogue!

  • Ron Guzman

    I am glad to see how LE is using technology to catch criminals. It is pretty easy to see how people are posting / bragging about what they are doing. The big thing LE needs to understand is the social media landscape is changing. There are other multi media platforms aside Facebook, and Youtube people communicate on. Most of it will be self taught, and with the right “know how” they will be able to track and catch criminals. I think it is going to get better, because the older generations “in charge” are starting to understand the power of social media as a tool instead of a new fad. Danielle summed it up perfectly “If the rest of the word uses social media it is safe to believe law enforcement and criminals themselves are using it well.”

  • Ron Guzman

    I am glad to see how LE is using technology to catch criminals. It is pretty easy to see how people are posting / bragging about what they are doing. The big thing LE needs to understand is the social media landscape is changing. There are other multi media platforms aside Facebook, and Youtube people communicate on. Most of it will be self taught, and with the right “know how” they will be able to track and catch criminals. I think it is going to get better, because the older generations “in charge” are starting to understand the power of social media as a tool instead of a new fad. Danielle summed it up perfectly “If the rest of the word uses social media it is safe to believe law enforcement and criminals themselves are using it well.”

  • pdarden

    Just as social media is used by law enforcement to catch criminals, likewise, social media is used by civilians to film law enforcement when it is perceived or suspected that law enforcement officers are violating a person’s rights. What’s good for the goose ….

    Aside from the criminal side of the discussion —- I’ve worked in the legal profession on the civil side for the past 31 years. I’ve seen social media utilized over the past few years as a screening for jury research. It’s no secret for complex commercial litigation trials and especially those that involve a great of deal money, juror researchers run searches on potential jurors. There are cases where jurors have been caught talking about a case online whether it was discussing an award in advance of that award or something else. It’s becoming more and more common for corporations to develop social media policies for their employees regarding what they say in relation to their jobs. Likewise, discovery requests are now considering the question of do you ask about social media platforms. Judges are including wording in their instructions to potential jurors and to impaneled jurors regarding the use of social media.

  • pdarden

    Just as social media is used by law enforcement to catch criminals, likewise, social media is used by civilians to film law enforcement when it is perceived or suspected that law enforcement officers are violating a person’s rights. What’s good for the goose ….

    Aside from the criminal side of the discussion —- I’ve worked in the legal profession on the civil side for the past 31 years. I’ve seen social media utilized over the past few years as a screening for jury research. It’s no secret for complex commercial litigation trials and especially those that involve a great of deal money, juror researchers run searches on potential jurors. There are cases where jurors have been caught talking about a case online whether it was discussing an award in advance of that award or something else. It’s becoming more and more common for corporations to develop social media policies for their employees regarding what they say in relation to their jobs. Likewise, discovery requests are now considering the question of do you ask about social media platforms. Judges are including wording in their instructions to potential jurors and to impaneled jurors regarding the use of social media.

  • Miss Bee Moloi

    Prosecution involving social media has recently been in the headlines in cases against racist rants. It has again been used recently in high profile cases where criminals have posted updates while incarcerated of how they are either “living it up” or “living well” behind bars.

    I’m writing from South Africa and what I am curious to know is if at all our LE
    even have access to the net in ordinary stations. Our LE don’t have
    access to a fraction of the technology at hand in the West yet the stats
    on South Africans with access to the net through their personal mobile
    devices would lend itself well to reducing the high levels of crime
    here.

    We look forward to LE using social media to clean up their image, build bridges with communities and improve their PR overall. I see your article is over a year old but still relevant and highlights opportunities for LE globally, to make changes.

    Great topic.

  • Miss Bee Moloi

    Prosecution involving social media has recently been in the headlines in cases against racist rants. It has again been used recently in high profile cases where criminals have posted updates while incarcerated of how they are either “living it up” or “living well” behind bars.

    I’m writing from South Africa and what I am curious to know is if at all our LE
    even have access to the net in ordinary stations. Our LE don’t have
    access to a fraction of the technology at hand in the West yet the stats
    on South Africans with access to the net through their personal mobile
    devices would lend itself well to reducing the high levels of crime
    here.

    We look forward to LE using social media to clean up their image, build bridges with communities and improve their PR overall. I see your article is over a year old but still relevant and highlights opportunities for LE globally, to make changes.

    Great topic.