Covered on NPR’s All Tech Considered blog earlier today, a crime reporter at a small newspaper called The Mercury is using Pinterest to help get the word out about wanted criminals in the area of Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Due to the ideal design for publishing pictures of people currently in trouble with the authorities, the “Wanted by Police” Pinterest board includes personal information such as the criminal’s mug shot, name, age and last known address. In addition, each pinned mug shot includes a description of their crimes as well as contact information to provide tips about their location around the Pottstown area. The variety of charges include theft, fraud, forgery, DUI, assault, trespassing, drug offenses and murder.
When asked about the effectiveness of the social platform for location, Pottstown Police Captian F. Richard Drumheller said “We’ve actually seen a 57 percent increase in our warrant services (arrests), and we actually got more people based on our tips and our calls. For us it’s like, ‘Yes,’ because it’s very enjoyable in police work when the public helps you.” Drumheller mentioned that some people see their picture on the profile page and call up the police to turn themselves in.
People that live in the area are using the Pinterest board to leave comments on the pinned pictures with tips about physical location as well as information about other social media profiles. Forty miles southeast of Pottstown, the Philadelphia police department is also using Pinterest to help catch people wanted for crimes. However, the Philadelphia police also use the page to announce arrests in the area as well as show off pictures of current and past officers.
In Kansas City, Missouri, that police department was one of the first in the United States to adopt the Pinterest platform. The organization is utilizing Pinterest to help educate the public on popular street drugs and how to identify them. The police department also posts safety tips, missing person reports, surveillance videos, shots of drug money and officer training information. In addition, they have created boards for lighter topics such as pictures of officer’s dogs, interesting police equipment and sweet treats.