THE ROLE SOCIAL MEDIA PLAYS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
My office is frequently contacted by radio and television shows looking for a bit of insight from a private investigator. Some of these requests come from big national news outlets, and many are from smaller local channels or Internet-based media. No matter who is reaching out, I always give them a quick call back as a courtesy and determine whether the interview is a good fit for myself or Martin Investigative Services.
This week, however, a request came in that gave me pause. It was from my hometown.
Though I was born and have lived most of my life in California, I spent a period of my boyhood in Rochester, Minnesota, where my mother had family. I have wonderful memories of my time there as a student at St. Francis Grammar School, my first year of high school at Lourdes and delivering papers on my bicycle in the snow.
I met all the greatest baseball players of the day, as I use to go down to the Mayo Clinic and lie in wait. That is where many of the Major League players got their yearly physicals. Every kid in town had a full collection of autographed cards, everyone from Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra to Enos Slaughter and Willie Mays. When my family left Rochester when I was 14 years old, I carelessly tossed my baseball card collection – but that’s another story.
When I saw a request from a reporter named Betsy Singer, a producer and anchor for KAAL-TV ABC6 News in Rochester, MN, I couldn’t resist calling her back.
Singer had read a post of mine about how a Facebook update led to the capture of a fugitive and she wanted to talk about the role social media plays in law enforcement. She was doing a feature on a local program in Freeborn County called Warrant Wednesdays, in which warrants are posted on Facebook in hopes of getting information on the whereabouts of the fugitives. Recently a fugitive in Kansas saw himself on the site, and reached out to make arrangements to turn himself in.
I called her back and we arranged this interview.
We had a great talk about the work I do locating people and doing background checks with my service 888-USUNITE. We talked about the general foolishness of criminals, who post all kinds of incriminating information and photos on social media.
In this particular case, however, I said that in my opinion the man in question was doing something very smart by turning himself in to authorities. He was establishing a pattern of cooperation with the law. We even talked a bit about my own family and its history in law enforcement community. All in all, it was a great little seven-minute segment on the news, and as a bonus I heard from some long-lost family members, who were quite surprised to see me on their local station that evening.
60 years ago, I never would have imagined that one day I would become a Federal agent representing the Department of Justice, or a private investigator in Newport Beach. I certainly never could have imagined something like Facebook, or that I’d be writing a blog that would reach readers all over the world in one click.
Cheers to hometowns everywhere.
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