Social media changes community policing

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Last Friday night a shocking post was published by the Moses Lake Police Department on its Facebook page. The police department detailed an incident earlier in the evening in which a man who was riding a horse was struck from behind by a vehicle. The exact details of what happened will unfold as court proceedings progress, but what is known is that the horse was killed in the collision, the man riding the animal was seriously injured, and the driver of the vehicle left the scene of the horrific accident instead of stopping and getting the man help.

The collision happened around 7 p.m. By 10:50 p.m. that night, the MLPD put its PSA up on Facebook about the crash, in which it laid out what happened and urged the public to help find the driver of the suspect vehicle.

The post spread across social media like wildfire. The MLPD says within 15 minutes of its post going up on Facebook, 22-year-old Cooper Wilson was identified as the driver. Fast-forward about 13 hours: the MLPD had Cooper in custody by Saturday afternoon, and the vehicle was recovered. Any cop will no doubt tell you that to have a hit-and-run suspect captured in such a short amount of time is nothing short of remarkable.

Statistics tell us Facebook is by far the most widely used social media platform. Stats also tell us that, according to the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of Facebook users visit the site daily, with 51 percent of users visiting several times a day. What happened Friday night could be a case study for those statistics. By the end of the weekend, the MLPD’s post had been shared over four thousand times, commented on over 150 times and engaged with by over 700 people. More important than the statistics, less than 24 hours after a life-changing event, police had a person in custody for, if proven to be true in the courts, a heinous act. Statistics can’t reflect or put a price on a family not having to wonder where or who the person is that shook up their world.

“This is the way it is supposed to work, the community and your police department working together for the common good,” said the MLPD on Facebook. We echo the department’s sentiments. In a world where there are innumerable examples of the harm that social media can do, let’s not forget about the good that it can do as well. A terrible incident occurred Friday night, but thanks to simple shares, thousands of 30-second reads and a community coming together, even if only over a screen, a wanted person was captured and relief was brought to countless people across our tight-knit community.

— Editorial Board

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