The Golden Post Awards is the first awards program for U.S. state and local government social media efforts!
Nomination Deadline: Friday, Feb. 20, 2015
Public Voting: Feb. 26 – March 6, 2015
Finalists Announced: Thursday, March 12, 2015
Winners Named: GSMCON Event, Thursday, April 30, 2015
Gloucester Township Police Crime Stoppers Program
The Gloucester Township Police Department (GTPD) in Camden County, NJ has had a successful use of its various social media programs over the past few years to help solve numerous cases and bring offenders to justice. The outreach and assistance with the surrounding communities to partner with law enforcement has been eye opening, positive and exciting. The GTPD's Technical Services Unit is instrumental in maintaining an updated, professional and enjoyable social media program that includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, NIXLE and the department website in order to effectively connect with various communities that we serve.
City of Sioux City, Iowa - Social Media Tips Led to Shooting Arrest
The Sioux City Police Department routinely uses social media to communicate with citizens. A traffic stop made by Officer Kevin McCormick on April 29, 2013 resulted in eight gun shots into the police cruiser followed by the suspect fleeing the scene. McCormick , who had joined the force in 2012, was shot once in the head and made a full recovery.
The Sioux City PD placed several updates with photo of the suspect on their Facebook page, followed by more than 10,000 people, asking the public to call 911 immediately if seen as he was considered armed and dangerous. Sioux City PD received several tips relating to the shooting that ultimately included the assistance of several agencies to apprehend Jamal Dean in Texas several days later.
Oakland County Social Media to Stop Cyber-Bullying
Oakland County's social media team's proactive use of social media monitoring helped to find and identify a cyber-bullying Twitter account and then shut it down by partnering with the department of Information Technology, the Sheriff Department, Corporation Counsel, and the County School District. On August 2013, our social media team was monitoring the use of the phrase Oakland County across various platforms, a task we do multiple times a day to find people talking about us and our community without using our official account name (@OakGov) or hashtag (#OaklandCounty). We find many opportunities for citizen engagement, customer services, social media connections, content curating, and brand protection on a daily basis with this technique. However, on this particular day, August 8th, 2013 we found a Twitter account being used for cyber-bullying. The account was called Oakland County Rumors, and was being used by area high school students for tweeting extremely vulgar statements, primarily sexual in nature, about other high school students (using full names). Students would send the account rumors through Twitter Direct Messages and then the account would Tweet them anonymously, protecting themselves and the bully while objectifying the victims. The account had been created the day before on August 7th but had already sent out 54 tweets and had amassed 278 followers. (See attached screen shot from 8-8-13) The social media team quickly took action to shut the account down and reported it to Twitter. They then escalated it to IT leadership and partnered with the Sheriff's Office and Corporation Counsel. The cyber crimes detective from the Sheriff's Department requested the contact information of the individual who started account from Twitter and then used a fake profile of a high school student to infiltrate and monitor the group. However he couldn't take any legal action against the bullying unless a victim filed a police report or a credible threat was acted out. Corporation Counsel was able to take action right away because the account was using the Oakland County official seal as their avatar. They contacted Twitter with a copyright complaint requesting the account to stop using the seal, a federally registered service mark. Even though schools were out for summer vacation, we notified the districts to try and get this removed before school started back up in a month. A communication was sent out to Oakland Schools Intermediate School District so it could be forwarded to all of the public and private high schools in Oakland County. A few weeks went by while we were waiting for a response from Twitter, the creator, or a victim. IN this time the account continued to grow in popularity, and by August 15th it had ballooned up to 1,662 Followers. The account had gone viral, and multiple cop-cat accounts were popping up every day. (See Attached 8-15-15 Screen Shot of the Rumors account and a Copy-Cat account @OaklandCoDrafts). The detective was able to obtain the email address of the account creator, but unfortunately it was an anonymous Gmail and they didn't respond to the detective at all. Eventually a few victims came forward and an official investigation was underway. By August 23rd the creators posted that they were deleting the Rumors account and didn't mean for anyone to get hurt. A Compliments account was then created and people were encouraged to submit nice things and compliments instead of rumors so that way they could all start the new school year off fresh. As cyber-bullying has only gotten worse since 2013, the Oakland County social media team and the Sheriff's Department cyber crimes unit continue to monitor social media for other such occurrences.
City of Sioux City, IA Solving Crime Through Social Media
Photographs of several theft suspects from Target's security cameras were shared on the City of Sioux City Police Department's Facebook page on January 14, 2015. Within one hour of posting the images, several citizens contacted the Sioux City Police Department providing names of the individuals. Within six hours detectives were interviewing suspects and identifying property. More than $1,000 worth of property was recovered that included merchandise stolen from other stores in the community and 3 felony arrests were made. Social media played a key role in solving this crime as more than 10,000 people follow the City of Sioux City Police Department Facebook page. Sioux City, Iowa has a population of just over 82,000. This particular post resulted in 248 shares to help identify the suspects. The Sioux City Police Department has been involved with Crime Stoppers for nearly 30 years and social media has taken over and is now the most effective way information is received from the public.
Coral Springs Police Department solving crime via social media
There is no doubt that technology has improved the way law enforcement investigates crime. Combining technology to alert residents to crime trends or to ask for assistance in identifying suspects has proven successful in the City of Coral Springs. Thanks to social media, residents have helped identify suspects involved with fraudulent use of credit cards, cell phone thefts and a burglary. In addition, our Crime Prevention Unit has been able to prevent crime by alerting residents and business owners to emerging crime trends. Our Police Facebook Page has almost 6,000 followers.
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission - Gopher Tortoise Case
The social media team sent a tip to our Division of Law Enforcement and then developed a Facebook post. After posting a request for information, our investigators were able to build a case against two teenaged girls and take it to the State Attorney's Office. The objective: build a case against the perpetrators. Strategy: posted to Facebook and other social media outlets to gather information. Results: over 13,000 comments and tips on the original post. The follow-up post sent over 7 million unique viewers to our Facebook page. Many other tips were sent in via private messages or hotline calls on other cases because of this post. It also created thousands of additional likes to our page.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department – Operation No Laughing Matter
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) created the Electronic Communications Triage Unit (eComm) with a mission to monitor, share, train and conduct research utilizing electronic and web-based communications via social media. eComm routinely utilizes all social media platforms to routinely disseminate emergent and timely information with the public, while monitoring for rapid on-set events, situational awareness, and crime. Through monitoring, the eComm Unit quickly identified the often illegal and dangerous nature of "Facebook Parties" or social media parties, advertising the sale and use of illegal narcotics and alcohol to minors. One such drug was Nitrous Oxide or (NOZ) which is often described as "Laughing Gas". When inhaled, it can cause dizziness, numbness, loss of senses or even death. Our patrol areas were inundated with "calls for service" on weekends by residents complaining about the very nature of these parties. In addition, most of these illegal parties resulted in assaults, rapes and gang activity, and depleted department resources breaking up large parties.
To effectively end the sale, distribution and use of Nitrous Oxide, instill a better sense of community to Los Angeles County neighborhoods and end the onslaught of violence occurring as a result of illegal Facebook parties.
1. The eComm Unit partnered with LASD's Community Oriented Police Bureau (COPS) to combat the parties before they begun. Using social media, the advertisement of parties were monitored and when identified, the residential owner was contacted and notified of the illegal event that was scheduled to take place, effectively shutting them down.
2. Through the use of social media, the eComm Unit identified distributors of NOZ and monitored social media platforms with regards to sales, distribution and purchases.
19 locations distributing NOZ to minor were identified and served with search warrants, resulting in the arrest of 5 individuals, the recovery of $20 million dollar (street value) of NOZ. In addition, several firearms and assault weapons were recovered from one location. In addition, we have seen a 30% reduction in crime as a result of this interdiction.
The LASD Legislative Unit worked with members of the California State Assembly to author a bill that increased penalties on NOZ distributors in California, thus AB1735 was drafted. On September 19, 2014, the bill was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown.
Since this operation, the distribution of Nitrous Oxide for social consumption has been eradicated from Los Angeles County. We are now seeing neighboring counties begin to deal with the same issues and the eComm Unit continues to assist our partners in their efforts.
Fargo Police Department - Sexual Assault Arrest from Post
The Fargo Police Department released photos captured on a game cam that was strategically set up in early spring of 2014 after numerous reports of window peeping incidents. The male in the photos had never been identified or released to the public until late 2014 after a sexual assault occurred close to NDSU campus. Investigators took a shot at releasing the images of the male to the public via social media and due to multiple viewings and tips, the male was identified and has subsequently charged with rape.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department - Dumpster Murder - Case Solved!
It was a particularly vicious crime. A woman was sexually assaulted, stabbed repeatedly, and tossed into a dumpster to die. Her killer was caught on camera, but his identity was unknown. That's when Homicide Lt. Ray Steiber, of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, turned to social media for help. Posted on the department's YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook pages, the killer's image instantly reached 95,000 people, several hours before that evening's television newscasts. Within minutes, the phones began ringing at LVMPD's dispatch center and homicide bureau. Several people who had seen the tweets and studied the surveillance images knew exactly WHO this was, and WHERE he lived. Responding to the flurry of tips, including information from the suspect's own relatives, officers took the killer into custody without incident.
City of Medford Police Department Facebook Page
The Medford Police Department joined Facebook in July, 2013. The page had moderate success but really took off in 2014, when the followers grew from about 2,000 to over 12,000. Currently, 13,400 follow MPD's Facebook page, which is much more than most metropolitan cities. Medford is a town of about 77,000. The success of MPD's Facebook has been contributed to a more relaxed, and sometimes humorous tone. The change in tone began in 2014 and was met with immediate success. People enjoyed hearing police talk as humans and not as government officials. The increase in followers has also greatly contributed to solving crime. MPD often shares information on criminal activity and wanted subjects. Many cases have been solved due to the participation of Facebook. For example, police had been looking for a wanted sex offender for months with no luck. After posting his picture on Facebook, a tip came in within hours and he was caught. Not only has Facebook improved public relations, and hold criminal accountable.