Pearl River County turning to Facebook to fight crime

PEARL RIVER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Pearl River County Sheriff's Department is turning to Facebook to fight crime. If you friend the department, you'll find the faces of wanted criminals. As Al Showers reports, the idea is to use the power of social media to put criminals behind bars.

The newest pics on the Pearl River County Sheriff's Department Facebook page probably aren't friends with Sheriff's Department. County crime fighting has hit social media.

"We just decided that we would post photos or mug shots of our wanted felons. And put their pictures and information for what they're wanted for," said Shane Tucker, the Chief Deputy of Pearl River County's Sheriff's Department.

Tucker said using the power of social media to track down suspected criminals is just another tool to stay ahead of the bad guys.

"There are individuals that spend significant amounts of time on social networking sites," Tucker said. "They're friends with a lot people that may be friends with some of the folks that we're looking for."

But if you don't want to be the one tagging a friend as a criminal, Tucker said they have way to protect someone's anonymity.

"They can respond with a tip on the facebook page itself. Or if they're uncomfortable with us knowing their identity, the phone numbers for our department are posted, and they can contact our department anonymously," Tucker said.

The department's year old Facebook page evolved from social to serious about a month ago.

"If we had a missing child, that would be another avenue along with other investigative resources that are available to get information out to the public quickly or tips related to crimes," Tucker said.

So far, Facebook hasn't slammed the cuffs on anyone, but deputies are confident it will. And they know, social media will can help them protect and serve.

The Pearl River County Emergency Management Agency is also using Facebook as a tool to give and receive information from the public. You can find either agency on Facebook by searching their names.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.