WJBF Extra: Social Media Investigator

Over the last decade, social media sites like Facebook,
Twitter and YouTube have helped us keep in touch with our family and friends.

But, these sites also play a crucial role in helping
lawmakers bust lawbreakers.

Remember the brawl at the mall? Or the downtown Augusta attacks?
Well, it's all caught on camera and posted to YouTube, thanks to social media.

“Video doesn't  tell
you the entire story but gives you a good basis to move forward,” said Richmond
County Officer, Lt. Lewis Blanchard.

Blanchard says these tools act like an extra set of eyes for
officers.

“Having video footage, it may not have stopped the crime but
it could prevent future crimes from occurring from that individual if we can
make an arrest,” said Blanchard.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to be everywhere. We would
love to be but it's not feasible,” said Master Cpl  Jeremy Hembree with the Aiken Department of
Public Safety.

“Once we receive the video, it's going to be about what
happened like when it occurred, where it occurred, and identify at least one
person in the video, even if it is just a witness,” said Blanchard.

Officers say with social media they can constantly provide
YOU with updates during breaking news.

“Last January, when we lost Sandy Rogers, within an hour we
had a picture of the suspect's vehicle out to our several thousand followers on
Facebook and Twitter,” said Hembree.

It's not just investigators using social media to curb
crime. Employers are social media to find out what you are doing when you're on
the clock, and using sites like Facebook and Twitter to make sure you're not
procrastinating. School administrators are also busting students who violate
school policy thanks to social media.

Just a few months back, several soccer players from
Greenbrier High tweeted about having alcohol on a school trip. Those tweets got
them kicked off the team.

“Anytime you have video it gives us specific information. It
gives us a person to identify, a person of interest, and help us clarify,” said
Blanchard.

Officers say without this piece of crucial evidence, many
cases could go unreported or unsolved.

“If people aren't going to step forward and give us the
information, the video allows us to say you were there, and this is what we are
seeing. So you are either part of the problem or part of the solution,” said Blanchard.

“It might not prevent the crime but it gives us the tool to
solve it, whether it's a crime or an act of violence,” said Blanchard.

Many local law enforcement agencies have Facebook pages to
share information and get crime tips. Those departments are also working to
expand their social media presence on Twitter.

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