By: Laura-Jane Hatcher (WRGA News)
Facebook isn’t just about catching up with high-school friends anymore---it’s also being used to catch criminals.
In the past two years, The Rome City Police’s Facebook
page has grown from your typical social media presence to a tool for combating crime, says Detective Jeff Richerson.
“A lot of times we’ll get a case assigned to us where there might not be hardly any evidence to go on---no witnesses, no suspects, but we may have a still picture that was taken from a surveillance camera. We know that a lot of people now check social media and their Facebook pages on a daily basis, so I got the idea about two years ago, let’s just put their pictures on our Facebook page like they do on the news media,” Richerson says.
“When we first started, it might’ve taken a couple of weeks before someone would call us saying they recognize somebody. Now, we have people calling saying the recognize somebody in a matter of minutes of putting their pictures on there.”
With the publics’ help in identifying suspects, authorities have been able to make arrests in a number of seemingly un-solvable cases. In just the past six months, city police have been able to identity three robbery suspects, 15-20 theft suspects, several burglars and even arrest a person who was wanted for Rape.
Most of all, Richerson says the Facebook page has been incredibly helpful in finding missing children.
“We had a young lady missing here a couple months ago. As soon as we released a picture of her, it almost just instantly took off. Locally, people saw it. Then news media got a hold of it. Then it spread all across the state,” Richerson explains. “We were able to actually locate her in middle Georgia, get her back home safe and make an arrest of the person she was with. That worked really well, and worked really quick.”