Toronto Police officers are using the social networking site Facebook and video sharing site you- tube to solicit tips on unsolved and ongoing crimes as well as to educate youth about crime prevention.
Posting videos on you-tube that request information from the public to assist in crime solving allows officers to reach a wide audience in a variety of languages with minimal cost. While Facebook can be used for the same purpose, it also has the added advantage of creating a more interactive forum.
The Globe and Mail reports:
We have to use the Internet as a violence-prevention tool, not just to go out there and ask for tips," says Constable Mills, who at age 40 has two small children of his own, and has spent much of his police career working with young people.
"So my Facebook account is for dialogue, to help the kids, and I've got people around the world e-mailing me."
Cybertips bring the same monetary rewards and same guaranteed, court-protected anonymity - custom-made software strips away address communications - as the traditional telephone call to Crime Stoppers.
And by coincidence or not, Toronto's Crime Stoppers operation fielded a record number of tips in 2007, a number that may grow when encryption-protected text messages become part of the landscape later this year.
- Annie Noa Kenet Toronto