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Arizona law enforcement tries to become more social in its approach

Posted by Craig Penrod | Mar 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Social media has been around since humans began to talk. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word social is "of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society. Media is also a plural form of medium and a medium is a particular form or system of communication."

Some of the earliest forms of social media were primitive and did not involve a computer, but did involve some type of technology to convey the message. All living things communicate to each other in some way or another, but humans leave lasting impressions intentionally. Communication and networking are vital to our survival and our history.

Social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Furthermore, social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals.

Social media monitoring started in the world of marketing, allowing companies to track what people were saying about their brands. But now, with software that allows users to scan huge volumes of public postings on social media, law enforcement agencies are starting to embrace it as well. Many law enforcement departments in Great Britain use a product sold by CrowdControlHQ that allows them to monitor what they have defined as "social media risk."

While businesses are able to use the application to monitor on what their employees are saying on social media or to watch what others are saying. British law enforcement agencies use the application to stay in touch with the public in their jurisdictions, as well as a way in which to detect potential criminal and non-criminal problems. The application looks at keywords, allowing it to track conversations. The application also looks for vulnerable people who might be suicidal or abused.

In this country, BrightPlanet sells a product that is more explicitly marketed as an investigative tool. The application looks for the Twitter handles of suspected criminal allowing detectives to identify what they are doing. In other words, if persons are talking about certain criminal activity, the application captures that activity and alerts detectives and law enforcement agencies.

An application called BlueJay is capable of scanning the entire "fire hose" of tweets and can be configured to focus on tweets coming from certain places. The application can collect instant photographic evidence from a disturbance.

Location information provided by the application is dependent upon people leaving their geotagging option active, something that only a small subset of Twitter users do. But, when they do, BlueJay can track their movements over time on its map. For law enforcement, this component to the application is a potential gold mine of information. Some law enforcement officers have described this as being "like a stakeout."

But, some law enforcement officers hesitate to use these tools. So even on the Internet, some law enforcement agencies require their detectives to explain what they're monitoring and why before they get permission from a supervisor before they scan social media.

In an effort to project a more positive image in their communities, some law enforcement agencies have embraced social media as a way in which to make friends with their communities by projecting a positive image. These law enforcement agencies also use social media as a tool that allows them to explain polices and even alert residents about issues and problems.

In Maricopa County and the greater Phoenix area several law enforcement agencies use Twitter and Facebook in order to stay in touch with their residents.

  • The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) is on Twitter at: Arizona DPS ‏ @Arizona_DPS. The DPS Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/Ariz.DPS
  • The Arizona Highway Patrol ‏is on Twitter at: @AZHighwayPatrol. The Arizona Highway Patrol Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arizona-Department-of-Public-Safety/112355638777308?rf=112105798815680
  • The Maricopa County Sheriff's Department in on Twitter at:‏ @MaricopaSheriff. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Department Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maricopa-County-Sheriffs-Office-Official-Site/147344832098401
  • The Phoenix Police Department is on Twitter at: @phoenixpolice. The Phoenix Police Department Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/phoenixazpolice
  • The Gilbert Police Department is on Twitter at: @GilbertPolice. The Gilbert Police Department Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/GilbertPolice
  • The Peoria Department of Public Safety is on Twitter at:‏ @PeoriaAzPS. The Peoria Department of Public Safety Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/PeoriaPublicSafety
  • The Buckeye Police Department ‏is on Twitter at:‏ @BuckeyePolice. The Buckeye Police Department Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/BuckeyeAZPD
  • The Glendale Police Department‏ is on Twitter at:‏ @GlendaleAZPD.
  • The Mesa Police Department ‏is on Twitter at:‏ @MesaPD. The Mesa Police Department Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/MesaAzPD
  • The Tempe Police and Fire Departments are on Twitter at:‏ @TempePoliceFire. The Tempe Police and Fire Departments Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/TempePoliceandFire
  • The Maricopa County Superior Court is on Twitter at:‏ @courtpio. The Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/SuperiorCourtofArizona

These and other sources of social media are important tools used by the legal community in representation of clients who may be facing criminal allegations. It is important that your legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Our office offers free consultations for all DUI and criminal matters. Our Arizona DUI attorneys and Arizona criminal lawyers can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed for qualified representation. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer is vital in DUI cases and our DUI attorneys set that standard. If you're in need of a criminal defense, our Arizona criminal attorneys are ready to assist you.

About the Author

Craig Penrod

Craig W. Penrod was born and raised in Arizona and has practiced criminal defense for over 30 years. Mr. Penrod is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, State of Nevada Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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