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Social media leading to more tips, arrests

We love sites like Facebook and Twitter because they let us keep tabs on friends and family, and post our achievements and random thoughts, but police are loving social media these days for a much more important reason. It’s opening them up to a whole new pool of detectives – the public.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Just years ago, when cops hoped to nab a suspect, sometimes only with a vague description to work with, they’d staple signs to the wall at the post office and on local utility poles.

Today, the process is much easier and police departments can reach an exponentially higher amount of people in a matter of minutes. It just takes a few keystrokes and a click.

“We’ve had a great amount of success in having tips come in, identifying suspects, sometimes solving cases within 20 minutes,” said Sgt. Jeff Flynn of the New Jersey State Police.

Flynn said social media has resulted in several successful leads over the past 18 months.

Officials encourage social media users to “like” and share posts that feature a police department’s call for help. That way, more eyes hit the post, and the chances of success are that much greater.

“We’ve had posts that reached well over 2 million people,” Flynn said. “We’ve reached people clear across the country.”

In one case, Flynn said, online comments “tagged” the exact person the police were looking for. The suspect immediately turned himself in.

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