Police investigations use social media as a top source - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Police investigations use social media as a top source

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RICHLAND, Wash.-- Police investigations use social media as a top source. Getting answers for how police use social media was a difficult task. Mostly because officers and legal experts say giving that information out works against them.

Capt. Mike Cobb of the Richland Police Department says "any info on police tactics, whether its accessing social media or how we do searches with SWAT team tactics, that gives the suspects information. That makes if much more risky for officers to do their job."

Police look at social media as a good source of information because people post more information online. Police say they have seen a rise in how much more information people are putting out there for everyone to see.

Officers look for threats of people harming themselves or harming others. Their job is to intervene and prevent the public from being hurt. Social media is also used in tracking gang activity. Cobb says gang activity can be linked through pictures posted online and compared with sites that have been tagged by gang members.

Richland Police say they have to know about all different kinds of online media, not just the most popular ones. They have to be well versed in the wide range of online sites people are using. A broad spectrum of social media.