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With the ever-increasing use of social media, a trend is emerging among law enforcement agencies of utilizing this technology to more effectively solve crimes. While social media platforms can be employed in a variety of different ways in this endeavor, one method that is catching on locally is using Facebook to request tips from the public. A 2014 LexisNexis nationwide study showed that 29% of the law enforcement professionals surveyed utilized social media in this particular manner.
Since 2015, when the City of Bristol, Tennessee and the Bristol Tennessee Police Department began posting requests on the City’s Facebook page seeking the public’s assistance in identifying possible suspects involved with local crimes, numerous tips have been received. These tips have resulted in a number of suspect identifications and subsequent arrests, including one suspect who turned themselves in after seeing their face on surveillance camera stills included in a post.
“In law enforcement, we make use of every tool available in order to serve our community as effectively as possible,” said Bristol, Tennessee Chief of Police Blaine Wade. He continued, “Social media is a tremendous asset that helps to positively engage community members and encourages them to take part in helping to make Bristol a safer place.”
Since last year, these posts have generated a significant amount of interaction with the online community. In fact, the approximately 50 posts of this nature have reached an estimated total of more than 1.4 million views by Facebook users.
“Of all of the content we share through our Facebook page, the crime-related posts tend to regularly generate the most activity,” said Angie Rutherford, Media and Communications Manager for the City. “As soon as we make a post public, users almost instantly begin liking, sharing, and commenting on the post,” she added.
Members of the community who may have information regarding an unsolved crime should contact the Bristol Tennessee Police Department at 423-764-TIPS (8477). For more information, please contact Angie Rutherford, Media and Communications Manager, at 423-989-5500 ext. 2054.