Home videos helping law enforcement fight crime - WNCN: News, Weather

Home videos helping law enforcement fight crime

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Almost every singe day local citizens are posting about crimes in our area on social media sites and recently more and more are posting home surveillance video and pictures of criminals in the act. But is it actually helping law enforcement? News 3's Naomi Keitt talked to local law enforcement personnel to find out.

Sheriffs officials in both Muscogee and Lee county say the video and pictures can be very helpful but they do have some words of caution for citizens who are watching out for crime.

Eric Woodson is one of the creators of an extremely popular Neighborhood Watch Group on Facebook. The group has nearly 20,000 members and it's a constant source of information specifically about crime in our local communities.

"It doesn't matter where you are, you can hear what's going on in the area and you can learn from it," said Woodson.

The concept isn't new, but it's now sweeping social media and even has law enforcement personnel checking Neighborhood Watch sites regularly.

"The best tools we have as law enforcement officers to help us solve crimes are citizens and it's citizens just out there going through their everyday life," said Major Randy Robertson.

But are home surveillance videos, pictures, and posts actually helping law enforcement? Major Randy Robertson says absolutely. Take for example a recent reported mail theft in Phenix City. Video and pictures were posted on the Neighborhood Watch Facebook group. Major Robertson says the posted video can help narrow down the possible suspect.

"They were able to hand law enforcement a photo and say hey this is the person who did it. But even better, they were able to hand their community a photo, and you can't hide in Columbus," said Major Robertson.

Even in Lee County, their sheriff's office posts videos of suspected criminals to get the public's help in solving crime. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones does warn about posting online before reporting potential crimes to law enforcement officials.

"Where it's available to anyone and everyone including the criminals, please contact us first. Let us get that information. It might be the piece we need to apprehend an individual," said Sheriff Jay Jones.

Woodson says the group is helping several communities band together like never before.

"You now know that you're not alone and that citizens will stand up with you and will help you. It will contribute and it's the bad people who have to look over their shoulders now," said Woodson.

Major Robertson also warns about jumping to conclusions with social media posts. He encourages citizens to post videos and report crimes but steer away from accusing people especially those who may be innocent of criminal activity.

You can join the Neighborhood Watch group on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/247655761946748/

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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