Over the years, social media has grown into more than just personal networking sites. Now it's a way for people, businesses and organizations to communicate with others near and far. Our Cara Thomas tells us how social media now plays an important role in how police and fire departments function every day.
ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. -- It was about two years ago when law enforcement agencies began to take advantage of a new resource: Facebook. And just last week, the New Hartford Police Department jumped on board.
Chief Michael Inserra said, "It was time for us to come into the modern era and start our own Facebook page."
It didn't take long before they started to reap the benefits of their decision. After posting a surveillance picture of a robbery suspect on their page, it was only a matter of minutes before someone from the community identified who she was. New Hartford's police chief says the officer that created the page, couldn't contain his excitement.
"When we had obtained a name of the suspect, within 30 minutes, he called me up, he was ecstatic. I mean it was like a young child in a candy store," said Inserra.
So while police use social media to help fight crime, fire departments say they've joined Facebook to keep the public informed on what they're up to.
"Some people like to know when the horn goes off at three in the morning, ok where are they going now, what's going on," said Lt. Cody Rosinski from the Forestport Fire Dept.
Even small, rural departments like Forestport utilize social media, posting department events, public safety tips and where and when an emergency is happening.
"I'll just put EMS call or structure fire on such-a-such a road so maybe if they do see it, oh ok there's a fire on this road I'll avoid it, I'll go around," said Rosinski.
But police and fire departments say social media isn't only a great source for information, it's also the perfect place to connect with the community in a whole new way.
Those same emergency officials do admit that social media can be dangerous and to avoid any false information or miscommunications, social media policies have been created and officers have been delegated to monitor the pages. They say any inappropriate or vulgar comments will be deleted.