Social media connects Hamilton police with the city

Social media is paying dividends for the Hamilton police department, officials say, as the agency is using modern technology to help solve crimes and better connect with the community.

Police agencies around the country are using Twitter and Facebook as well as other new social tools to step up efforts against crime and make it easier for residents to connect with law enforcement.

Such was the hope last month when a woman entered KeyBank on Main Street and passed a note to a teller demanding money. When Hamilton police Sgt. Ed Buns released information, it was to the news media and the police department’s Facebook account.

“You know that somebody knows who this is because she wasn’t wearing any mask or disguise,” he said. “But getting that information out there on social media is important because everybody is spreading information on social media.”

How fast information moves now is fascinating to Buns. He remembers the time when information could be slowly put out on the streets and the media to get information leading to an arrest.

“There was a crime in 1994 — a murder — and we knew that there were only three groups of people who knew who committed that crime,” he explained. “There was the coroner, law enforcement and the person who did it.”

The idea of limited information released would hopefully get someone talking about details that would incriminate themselves and lead to an arrest. Nowadays, Buns said, that approach rarely works since social media has entered the communications arena.

Police Chief Craig Bucheit notes that the way social media has grown has been good for law enforcement in many ways.

“We have a lot of community involvement from people who will go to our page and share information,” he said. “It is a good way to get out information to a wide audience.”

From conceal and carry class information, road closures and throwback photos — Hamilton police have made the complete transition into Facebook.

But Social media platforms will never replace good police work or concerned citizens who keep a watchful eye out on their community, law enforcement officials say.

Case in point is Carol Cooley, who describes herself as everybody’s grandmother on South 9th Street. She has been active in bringing attention to what is ailing her neighborhood

“Something has to be done about the children,” she said, as she addressed council at a recent meeting. “There are some of these children that have no shoes or clothes, and I will ride around and buy them clothes. These things really disturb me.”

Cooley’s close attention to the misdeeds in her neighborhood has led to changes and improvements.

Another example is Bob Harris, president of the Southeast Civic Association. He told council that it is important to get out and see the areas that are troubling the city. He joined Bucheit, City Manager Joshua Smith and Safety Director Scott Scrimizzi on a drive through troubled sections of the city.

“It is important that if you sit on council that you get a good look at the community and find solutions for sections of town that will allow people to have a better place to live and a better quality of life,” Harris explained.

Bucheit agrees that all problems and cases won’t be solved by utilizing social media, but as a tool to aide the department in better connecting with the community and opening avenues to get help in solving crimes, it will continue to be a valuable asset well into the future.

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