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Social media in police work

Cops help distraught teen through Facebook

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Law enforcement used Facebook to prevent a tragedy earlier this week. Port Authority police intercepted a Facebook user's post about a possible suicide attempt at the George Washington Bridge.

An 18-year-old man posted "I am thinking about jumping" to his Facebook page with pictures of the George Washington Bridge. A concerned user saw it and called 911.

Using social media, Port Authority Lt. Thomas Michaels tried to contact the suicidal teen. Michaels posted a message to the teen telling him to call.

Another officer distributed photos of the the teen's Facebook picture, and officers began searching the area. About two hours later, Michaels' phone rang. It was the teen. They spoke for a few minutes. Thankfully, the teen was off the bridge.

How it all unfolded is an example of how social media is changing law enforcement.

In 2012, the NYPD and the Brooklyn D.A.'s office used Facebook to track and arrested burglary suspects who allegedly bragged online about their crimes.

Former FBI Special Agent Jonathan Gilliam said that social media empowers criminals and cops.

The Port Authority police have used social media to verify addresses in the past. This was the first time officers have used it to reach out to someone. The 18-year-old man met up with officers at city hall and voluntarily checked himself into a hospital for an evaluation.

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