Philadelphia Police Post Criminal Footage Online, Ask Twitter to Identify Suspects

Over the past year or so online video and social media have emerged as an effective new tool for fighting crime. That’s right– more and more victims are fighting crime YouTube style, posting surveillance cam footage of criminals in the act in hopes that the world wide web will help them hunt down the culprits and bring them to justice. Recently the YouTube crime fighting trend has caught on with law enforcement officials as well. The Philly Police have turned to social media and online video with their new ‘Video Villains’ initiative.

Police Spokesperson Lt. Ray Evers told Philly.com, “‘Video Villains’ is a new way for communities to get involved in making Philadelphia a safer city in which to live, work and visit, while using today’s top social-networking applications.” The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) has opened a Twitter account, a YouTube account, and a Facebook Page, which can be linked to from the PPD 2.0 section of their website, and are using these social networks to reach out to the community for leads and help in hunting down criminals. At this time, over 32,000 people “like” the PPD Facebook page and they’ve got just over 1,000 Twitter followers and 168 YouTube subscribers.

Let’s take a look at how the Philly Police is using social media to reach out to the public for leads. When a criminal is caught on CCTV surveillance camera the footage is uploaded to YouTube and shared on Twitter and Facebook. Check out the most recent Tweet from yesterday, asking people to help them identify the suspects in a gunpoint robbery in South Philly:

The link leads to the following video. Viewers are asked to call the Philadelphia Police Department if they have any information regarding the crime. The phone number is provided in the video:

In addition to posting video surveillance footage, the Philly PD has also started releasing a Top 10 List of the Most Wanted Video Suspects. They announced the new Top 10 Video Villains initiative on their site, stating the following:

“The Philadelphia Police Department announces a new crime-fighting campaign called “Video Villains.” The Department will now publish a Top 10 Most Wanted list of suspects-at-large who were caught on surveillance video while committing a crime. Case updates such as apprehensions and new developments about these “Video Villains” will be blasted out regularly through Phillypolice.com, Facebook and Twitter.”

Snapshots of the “Video Villains” can be viewed on the Philly PD’s official Flickr page. Click here to check out the most recent slideshow of the Top 10 Video Villains.

What do you think about the Philadelphia Police Department’s foray into social media and the new trend of using YouTube and social media to fight crime? Do you think we will be seeing more criminals brought to justice as a result? If you live in Philly, are you following the Police Department?

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