Bozeman police expand social media use to fight crime

Posted at 6:31 PM, Jun 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-12 20:31:21-04

BOZEMAN – Facebook has become a welcome tool for the Bozeman Police Department. Just this week, officers received dozens of tips regarding a shoplifting after posting surveillance photos of the suspects and their getaway vehicle.

“We got over 9,000 views on that post,” said Capt. Andy Knight, who leads the support services divisions which operates the Bozeman police Facebook page.

He said using social media to gather tips on a case when other leads have run dry is more useful than spreading the message through press releases.

“You might see it on the news really quickly but this gives people time to really focus in on it and pass it around and share it,” Knight said.

The department uses the Facebook page primarily for public outreach and gathering tips, but just last week some officers received additional training on using social media for gathering evidence.

Deputy Chief Jim Veltkamp said they learned about accessing the dark web and the use of less common social media sites. He said the department will continue to use social media and the internet in ways to benefit crime fighting.

The Bozeman Police Department is one of three agencies in the state with a forensic lab trained to extract evidence data from computers and cell phones.