Before I say anything else, I would like to make it very clear that I do not consider myself to be any kind of social media expert or 'guru' - just someone who has been online and talking to people long enough to have learned a thing or two that might be helpful.
The only thing I want to say right now is that police forces and others hoping to gain assistance from the public and who open Twitter accounts need to realize that it is vital to follow back anyone and everyone who follows you on Twitter if you are hoping to get people to come forward with information. It is just plain common sense!
If you use TweetDeck or a similar application you can set it up to alert you with a sound when someone sends you a Direct Message and keep it running in the background while you get on with your other computer work.
Most people will not be willing to tweet publicly to say that they know something that could help you solve, prevent or catch someone in the act of committing a crime but they might well be willing to send you a Direct Message (DM).
If you tweet publicly every time you need people to give information, saying where and when the event in which you are interested occurred, in time people will learn to look and see if you have enquired about something of which they believe they have seen or heard something that might help you.
If you all work together, you can forward information to one another and harness the real time power of public communications to improve many aspects of your working day. You could also engage, in public tweets, with those who are still clinging to the hope that to serve and protect is the aim of the vast majority of policemen; to make friends with those who have nothing to fear from you and to let those who should be afraid know that the tide is turning in favour of law and order - because it will, if you will only embrace and utilize social networking properly.
Labels: catch, crime, detect, evidence, networking, police, prevent, report, reporting, social media, Twitter, witness