Police chief discusses social media tactics

Brigid Campbell
Web Manager

USA Today reported in January that colleges across the midwest have been using social media in criminal investigations.
Marc Lovicott, a public information officer at the University of Wisconsin, told USA Today that using social media has helped campus police officers piece together how, when or why a crime happened.

“Social media does help us when we’re trying to follow that roadmap of a crime to figure out what happened when and who was involved,” Lovicott told USA Today in January.

The report noted that Yik Yak had been particularly helpful, because the app can provide law enforcement officials with IP address information in the face of criminal investigations and immediate threats. According to Yik Yak’s privacy policy, the app “may disclose (IP address information) to comply with the law, a judicial proceeding, court order, subpoena, or other legal process.” It also may do so to prevent criminal action or to assist in a criminal investigation.

University Police Chief Donald Bergmann said that University Police has not used social media to investigate crimes, and that he has some suspicions about its efficacy.

“It’s really way too informal of a process for law enforcement to rely on consistently … I guess you have to question the legitimacy of some of it,” he said.

He also said that relying on social media would require the department to monitor these apps constantly, which he does not feel is practical for University Police.

“I think with that comes a certain level of responsibility and liability that I don’t know we’re in a position to constantly monitor it … There’s always that possibility of missing something,” Bergmann said. “It seems to me that these different methods of social media are constantly changing. And they’re hard to keep up with, so that’s an added challenge.”

Bergmann added that the department hopes students will begin to tweet to the Royal Ride, instead of calling the dispatch office.

“The passengers will start to tweet the location and we’re gonna try to get the word out to students where the van is. We continually ask students, ‘please don’t call and ask where the van is;’ they don’t have time to answer that and typically don’t know,”

Although social media have not changed the way University Police officers investigate crimes, Bergmann said it may be able to facilitate communication across The University.

“The only application I think social media has in law enforcement is working to help work in better partnership with The University Community.”

Feb. 27, 2015

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *