The NYPD says the city’s murder rate hit an all-time low last year thanks largely in part to social networking sites like Facebook. It’s all part of a new creative strategy that police are using to target young gang members and those who like to beat their significant others.
Law enforcement officials noted a record-low 414 murders during 2012 and are down 33 percent already this year. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the New York Post that teen gang members are responsible for 30 percent of all shootings in the city. As such, they have been charging youngsters with conspiracy and using the threats and taunts they post on social media sites to build cases against them.
A police supervisor highlighted the fact that most people who are assaulted are afraid to contact police for fear of retaliation from gang members. But when rival gang members threaten each other on Facebook, that’s enough to go after them with a conspiracy charge. The supervisor said it isn’t uncommon to lock up 40 to 50 people at a time in sweeps that are similar to the big mafia takedowns of years ago.
But it’s not just gang members that are on the social media watch list. Cops are also cracking down on domestic violence incidents, hoping to intervene in abusive relationships before a husband or boyfriend crosses the line and commits murder. It’s a division that had fallen through the cracks in recent years as police were simply overwhelmed by other cases, according to one NYPD insider.
It would seem like a no-brainer to avoid posting threats or other damning evidence in such a public forum, but I digress.