Social media. Some may call it a blessing, others a curse, but no matter what the viewpoint is, social media has become a mainstay in today’s world.
Sites like Facebook and twitter give people the ability to connect with friends and family across vast distances, and even get the latest news and events in their community.
But can social media also be a valuable tool for law enforcement?
Glenda Power, director of Strategic Communications with the RCMP explained that social media does have a number of benefits for police.
“It’s one of the ways that we communicate with the public,” Power told The Southern Gazette in a telephone interview on Feb. 14.
She noted that social media can also be used by members across the province as an investigative tool.
“Just as an example, it was probably a month or two ago we issued a news release seeking the public’s assistance in identifying an individual who police wanted to talk to as a person of interest with respect to a crime,” Power said. “I would say that within two minutes we had multiple messages in on our Facebook account identifying the individual.”
Power said that the use of social media can also help play an important role in help ensuring public safety, as they are able to relay information to the public much faster than traditional methods
“When you think back to the time prior to social media the RCMP would probably put out a news release and no one would have the information until they see it on the supper time news, or the paper came out the next day or the next week,” she said, “but of course we live in a real-time kind of environment now.”
Power also noted an example on the Burin Peninsula on Sunday, Feb. 10 when a tractor-trailer overturned near Red Harbour.
“We were able to very quickly get it out to the media first of all that the road was blocked, and then we continued to follow that up with posts about the situation,” she explained.
Not just bad news
Power said their social media accounts are also a valuable asset when it comes to promoting the RCMP and community involvement of its members.
“We don’t only put out the police business side of things on social media,” she explained. “We also highlight stories about our RCMP members and how they’re engaged in the communities in which they serve.”