A LexisNexis survey reveals all the ways police use social media. LexisNexis Local law enforcement is getting the kind of technological boost that used to be limited to three-letter agencies, thanks to Web-based software services that mine social media for intelligence.

At last month’s International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in Philadelphia, LexisNexis showed off a new tool it will bundle with its research service for law enforcement agencies—one that will help them “stake out” social media as part of their criminal investigations. Called Social Media Monitor, the cloud-based service will watch social networks for comments and activities that might offer clues to crimes in the physical world. With direct connections into a variety of social media services’ feeds, it will help police plow through Twitter and Facebook in search of evidence that could lead to arrests. Social media is already a major tool for police departments. Some city police departments, such as the Boston Police Department, have integrated monitoring of social media into their Real Time Crime Centers (RTCCs)—operations that have been aided by federal funding in a number of large cities.

And because criminals often use social media themselves (to their own detriment), social media monitoring is paying off.

For example, in 2011 analysts at Cincinnati’s RTCC were searching the social network connections of suspects for one crime and found video of an armed robbery posted to a Facebook page by one of the perpetrators.     

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