Police: Online tools more important than ever

By Andrew Forgotch
Published: November 18, 2015, 5:57 pm

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Introducing a new a crime fighting tool on Wednesday, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman spoke about the importance technology plays in our lives.

“The simple fact is that our population receives their information and shares their information today on their cell phones,” he said.

More and more police departments are joining Facebook and they’re finding it a valuable tool, especially when more victims are uncooperative.

“Since we’ve gone more into the digital age – with the text a tip, with our Facebook page – we’ve seen an increase,” Lancaster police Lieutenant Todd Umstead said. “It’s easier.”

Police use Facebook to identify suspects and improve community relations, and they have a new tool in their Crimewatch website.

“I basically said that Crimewatch is Facebook on steroids,” Manor Township police Chief Todd Graeff said.

Through the secure, online tool, police can distribute information and get more tips. Crimewatch founder Matt Bloom said it’s a reliable tool that strengthens community relations.

“This type of engagement has helped law enforcement generate thousands of tips,” he said. “In fact, we were one of the top platforms for publicly submitted intelligence in Pennsylvania last year.”

Stedman said it’s more evidence that in the digital world, websites play a huge role in helping police.

“In a way we’re kind of deputizing every member of the community who uses Crimewatch,” he said. “We’re asking [people] to help us, help them keep their community safe.”

Police in Cumberland, Dauphin and York counties also use Crimewatch.

Lancaster County officials said they want to add a Crimewatch TV to the county courthouse.