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Facebook statuses share Norfolk police information

Jordan Crawford | 7/7/2014, 12:14 p.m.
The Norfolk Police Department is now posting their own statuses.
Many police departments across the nation have turned to social media to get information out to the public. The city of Norfolk is now following the trend.

In the past, law enforcement agencies only used social media to search for incriminating evidence. Now, along with your clever selfies and enlightened philosophical statements with misspelled words, such agencies as the Norfolk Police Department are posting their own statuses.

Across the country, many departments have turned to Facebook and Twitter as a means of getting information out to the public. Norfolk has followed the trend, said Cpl. Melinda Wray, spokeswoman for the Norfolk Police Department.

“Is it our only venue? No, it’s not,” said Wray. “But it is something we plan on doing more of than we did in the past.”

In the past week, Norfolk police used email to alert news agencies to information on the department’s social media accounts.

“It gives us the ability to reach out directly to the public, as well,” said Wray.

Newport News police use social media to notify the public of crime suspects and to post photos of wanted people, said department spokeswoman Holly McPherson.

“At this point, it’s still fairly new to us,” she said.

Virginia Beach police use social media to post announcements and positive news about the department, said spokesman J.C. Cason. Recent posts included a photo of the department’s police academy class graduation and traffic guidance for the Oceanfront on the Fourth of July.

“I know we are using it more and more,” said Cason. “One of the interesting things is how rapidly you can reach the masses.”

In the event of an emergency, Cason said, the department likely would post information on Facebook first.

“They’re not going to break into a TV show at my request,” he said. “But we can put it online.”