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Aug 15, 2014 1:41 AM by Lupita Murillo

Law Enforcement using social media to inform, protect public

TUCSON - From felons on Facebook to thugs on twitter, law enforcement agencies are turning to social media to help catch the bad guys. The Pima County Sheriff's Department is one of many law enforcement agencies in Southern Arizona using social media to inform the public.

Armed with a cyber weapon, Deputy Tom Peine uses social media to try to snag a suspect. "Social media is very helpful when it comes to looking for individuals, warning the community about certain events because it is available to a broad audience."

This scenario could happen to anyone using a grocery cart: Last week at the WalMart on Valencia Rd. Detectives say a Hispanic male, 5'8" to 5'9" wearing dark clothing and a red hat, casually walks up to the woman before quickly stealing her purse right out of the shopping cart.

Peine will post the suspects picture, video of the crime and the description of the thief.

Next to him, Deputy Courtney Rodriguez, she handles a different aspect of social media. "We really want to be accessible to the public. It's very interactive so if somebody asks a question we try to make sure we get them the right answer. Obviously there are some comments that don't warrant an answer. It's more of an opinion. We tend to leave those alone."

Tucson Police has more than 9,000 twitter followers. The agency regularly posts traffic collisions warning people to stay away from the area.

Their Public Information Officers also post pictures asking for your help in identifying thieves robbing convenience stores.

Tucson Police say social media has been extremely helpful in identifying suspects. The sheriff's department also agrees.

So with that kind of track record, law enforcement is continuing to find ways to use social media to protect and inform the public.

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