Almost everyone will agree social media has become part of the fabric of our lives. We use it to update friends and family on topics ranging from what we are eating to when the family reunion will be held to announcing the birth of a new child. Social media is no longer simply an extracurricular activity for the younger generation, social media is now used by almost everyone. “Almost everyone,” of course, includes police officers.
POLICE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
In 2012, a study asked over 1,000 police officers about their use of social media in police investigations. Their answers may surprise you.
- Four out of five local and federal sworn peace officers reported using social media to assist them in their investigations of criminal allegations.
- More than two-thirds of local and federal sworn peace officers report that using social media outlets have helped them solve crimes in a faster manner than without the help of social media.
- Of cases where the search warrant was challenged based upon probable cause to enter the area named to be searched, which included information discovered as a result of reviewing social media accounts, the warrants were upheld almost 90 percent of the time.
- Almost half of all licensed peace officers surveyed report using social media once or more each week to investigate crimes.
- Of those already using social media, 83 percent indicated they intend to use social media more frequently in the future when investigating crimes.
- Of the licensed peace officers who reported they didn’t rely on social media as a criminal investigative tool, three-quarters of them reported they intended to start using social media as an investigative tool in the very near future.
Based on this data, and based on the fact this study was done six years ago, it is reasonable to presume that more police officers are using social media to investigate criminal cases than ever before.
SOCIAL MEDIA DO’S AND DON’T’S
If you have been charged with a crime, refrain from discussing it on social media. Even a simple comment such as, “I can’t believe I got arrested for DWI last night,” can generate evidence for the police. If your friends comment on your post with statements such as, “Dude, you were so wasted!” regardless of whether or not that was actually true, you may have just created another witness for the state.
If you have been charged with a crime, and someone asks you about it on social media, the best thing to do is not respond, regardless of how tempting that may be.
And carefully scrutinize any photos you have posted, or others have posted and “tagged” you in. You’d be surprised how many people post a photo of themselves holding marijuana and money Saturday night, and then get arrested for selling marijuana Sunday morning!
FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES?
If you are facing criminal charges, you need an attorney well versed in criminal law. Contact the firm of Frost & Kavanaugh. Arthur R. Frost focuses his practice primarily on criminal defense and personal injury. Let him put his experience to work for you. Don’t post on social media. Contact our office to schedule a consultation today.