There can be many ways to catch a criminal, but the Beloit Police Department is finding that social media can be a very effective and quick way to do it.
“It’s been tremendously successful,” said Chief David Zibolski from the Beloit Police Department. “We’ve captured people through social media, for things as incidental as entries to buildings and criminal damages, all the way up to homicide.”
Chief Zibolski says sites like Facebook and Twitter can be a great tool since they increase the number of people looking out for criminals.
That was the case for Akeem Williams, who had been on the run since Sunday, wanted for drug and weapon charges.
The department posted his picture on its Facebook page and three days later, officers took Williams into custody.
“We turned to social media and we were like, ‘look, this is a guy that is a true danger to our community, brandishing weapons, we need to get him in before he ends up hurting or killing someone,’ and the community responded to that very positively,” said Zibolski. “I think everyone gets the idea that we can be proactive at preventing crime instead of waiting for something to happen.”
But that hasn’t been their only success story.
In January, gunmen shot and killed 5 year-old Austin Ramos, Jr. in a drive-by shooting.
“Social media and community tips and contributions were hugely important in helping to solve that crime and help and identify the perpetrators and locate them,” said Chief Zibolski.
The chief also said that they can’t do it all on their own, and always appreciate the help of the public.
“They’re an equal partner in this. They have as much to do with their safety as we do, and getting that information from them, pointing our troops in the right direction, it’s been just hugely successful,” he says.