Social media as a tool for law enforcement
Now, many law enforcement agencies are adopting an additional tool to help disseminate information in emergencies or even enlist assistance with fighting crime. Nixle is a San Francisco based information services company that partners with police and other municipal emergency services to distribute official information to opt-in residents across the United States. They are also part of the National Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (NLETS), as the only public messaging service on the International Justice and Public Safety Network.
Residents in participating cities are able to sign up for free real-time safety information by texting their zip-code to a 6-digit number or online. The service is in place with thousands of law enforcement departments across the US, and has been instrumental in sharing information in some pretty intense situations, like the shooting at Oikos University, a small religious college in Oakland, California. It also assisted law enforcement capture a robbery suspect in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
The only drawback to the service is that it does not provide a mechanism for law enforcement to get answers back from residents. However, as services like this expand, public safety agencies will be able to cast a wider and wider net to communicate information.
sources: Nixle LLC, Yahoo! News