Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s deputies are leading the fight against crime on a new front: a digital one that uses programs like Facebook and Twitter.
It can help on everything from pre-emptive interventions to actual crime-solving, said Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Dubin.
“During our social media searches, things we find can be photos of underage drinking, and evidence of marijuana use (especially by persons under 18 years old), and advertising of large-scale parties,” he said.
“While monitoring social media, if we see a (local high school student) talking about marijuana and other drugs, then we can talk to the school’s resource deputy who can reach out to the student,” Dubin said.
“Although the resources are not available to monitor social media and the Internet 24 hours a day, monitoring social media is still an extremely useful tool,” Dubin said.
The goal is to be proactive and make contact before a crime can occur, he added.
“Our social media efforts here at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station are a two-part approach,” Dubin said. “One is an outreach with the community and an interaction with the community, and the other is keeping an eye on key words and ‘buzzwords’ to then inform deputies of certain situations.”
The local program mirrors what takes place on a larger scale at the Sheriff’s Department’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
“We have a great partnership with those deputies,” Dubin said.
Recently, the CPU found evidence on social media of a party being advertised to local high school students.
Alcohol and narcotics were advertised. CPU zone leaders were able to contact the property owner where the party was going to be held.
The party owner was unaware that what was supposed to be a small gathering had grown to hundreds of people being invited and that the party had made it on social media. Underage drinking, maybe a bad traffic collision, fights, or even possibly sexual assaults were all avoided because of the CPU’s proactive efforts, Dubin said.
“At a local level, the CPU is looking for keywords relating to things happening in the Santa Clarita Valley,” he said. “All of the social media we are monitoring is open to the entire world, anyone can search this stuff. Of course, there are always the regular posts regarding things like where our local deputies like to run radar and monitor traffic, to where DUI checkpoints are scheduled to be conducted.”
Through their networking, public interaction and social media, CPU deputies are able to monitor things like AB-109 parolees, checks on sex registrants, tracking pawns and property being sold to second-hand dealers and specialized patrol operations in affected areas based on crime trends.
“Every CPU deputy uses social media, like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, on a daily basis,” Dubin said.
“If the community has questions or comments, we engage via social media, email or a good old fashion phone call. Our goal is a strong partnership with the community we serve,” he said.