Law enforcement is venturing into social media. Anne E. Schwartz, Communications Director for the Milwaukee Police Department says they understand how the web and social media can help law enforcement do its job. “We’ve created a place on our website for news, but we also are using Facebook and we’re using Twitter, and all of those tools together have really helped us get the word out especially quickly when we’re trying to make an arrest of a dangerous suspect,” says Schwartz.
Some larger departments around the state, including Madison and Green Bay, are now on Twitter or Facebook and use those sites to get information out to the public. Of course the media are also using their web sites and social media to put out “as it happens” information on crime – and there can be a downside to that. “That immediacy the media brings also brings an immediacy to the suspect that we’re trying to arrest,” says Schwartz. The most recent example: the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department was involved in an hour’s long freeway standoff with two men in an SUV, and had television stations – and their websites, covering the event as it unfolded.