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Social media helps fight crime

Wanted posters, television programs including America’s Most Wanted and telephone tip lines used by programs such as Crime Stoppers have all been popular crime-fighting tools at various points in history, and now, law enforcement agencies are capitalizing on the popularity of social media to identify and locate fugitives.

One of those agencies is the Denton Police Department, which has been using its Facebook page as an effective way to distribute information to the public for about a year now, according to Public Information Officer Ryan Grelle.

The department posts photos of some of the individuals sought on outstanding warrants on its Facebook page in albums titled “Denton’s Most Wanted.” One album is for warrants classified as Class B misdemeanors and the second is for felony warrants.

Using social media to post such information is an effective way to reach the public, Grelle told us. Thanks to the growing popularity of Facebook and other social media, Denton’s Most Wanted can be seen by thousands of people.

The results have been impressive. Since the postings began, there have been 15 arrests — the last one just this past week, Grelle told us.

At present, he said, the goal is to focus on serious crimes, so outstanding traffic tickets and moving violations are not currently posted on the department’s Facebook page. However, Grelle isn’t ruling that out.

Grelle said the department is not only working on Facebook, but on Twitter, as well.

The social media following is growing within the city, and the Denton Police Department’s page has more than 4,820 “Likes” and the department’s Twitter account — which links to Denton’s Most Wanted on Facebook — has surpassed 5,300 followers.

Grelle said the department was first in the county to be verified on Twitter as an “official department page,” and it ranks No. 3 in the nation on Twitter of agencies with 100-249 sworn officers.

 “It’s amazing how much demand there is for this type of thing — I figured, why not do something good with it and try and make our town a safer place to live,” Grelle told us.

We commend Officer Grelle and the Denton Police Department for taking the initiative to put social media to work for the residents of Denton.

And we encourage all residents to check out “Denton’s Most Wanted” on the department’s Facebook page and to contact the department with any useful information.

Tips can be made by liking the Denton Police Department’s Facebook page and sending a private message. All tips leading to an arrest will remain anonymous.