Utica police turned to social media to solve a crime, and are now crediting Facebook with helping them catch the criminal.
On the Utica Police Department's Facebook page this morning, they are thanking the public for their help in solving the crime.
Last month, Utica police posted this You Tube video on their Facebook page, showing a beer theft taking place at the Culver Ave. Nice-N-Easy.
After that, police got several tips called in. They eventually arrested the suspect Tuesday when he surrendered at police headquarters when a relative encouraged him to turn himself in.
Edin Huskic, 16, is now charged with petit larceny.
One person responded to the arrest on the department's Facebook page, writing, "He has the right to live in a country governed by law. He does not have the right to free beer. Glad this is working, UPD."
I just got off the phone with Sgt. Steve Hauk, Public Information Officer for Utica Police. He tells me this is the 13th arrest they have made using social media since they launched their Facebook page back on November 24th. Sgt. Hauk says they have also utilized social media platforms to gather all kinds of pertinent information in their investigations.
Utica police aren't the only ones turning to social media to help solve crimes. Last month, we told you on CNY Central.com how Syracuse police were jumping on the social media bandwagon. Many police departments across the country are utilizing it too, realizing what a valuable tool it is to help catch criminals.
The use of social media among police departments has become so widespread, the International Association of Chief of Police (IACP) created a Center for Social Media. The goal is to "use social media to prevent and solve crimes, strengthen police-community relations, and enhance services."
Last year, the IACP conducted a study on law enforcement's use of social media. 728 agencies from 48 states and the District of Columbia were surveyed as part of the research. About 81 percent of agencies surveyed use social media. Nearly 67 percent have a Facebook page. About 35 percent of agencies have a formalized social media policy. Among those that didn't use social media, about 61 percent of them said they were thinking about using it.
When asked what they would use social media for, 62 percent of those surveyed said crime investigations. About 44 percent said notifying the public about crime problems. Another 40 percent said they used it to solicit tips on crime, notify the public of an emergency, do crime prevention and community outreach. Click here for the full results.
Do you follow any police departments on Facebook or other social media? Do you think it's a useful tool? Have you ever called in a tip from a department's Facebook posting? Would you be more inclined to give information through Facebook than by calling police directly? Leave your comments below.