We’ve written before about the power of social media especially in law enforcement. Across the country, innovative police departments are reimagining how technology can help them work faster and smarter — with huge payoffs for public safety.

Last year the Los Angeles Police Department won a $3 million federal grant to use internal crime data to see if future crime trends could be predicted. This predictive policing model looks for micro trends in police reports and other internal data and seeks to spot future trends.

Crowdsourcing Citizens To Solve Crimes

Now a Sheriff in Florida is solving crimes by crowdsourcing solutions on his Facebook Page. When a string of air conditioning thefts occurred in Broward County, Sheriff Al Lamberti posted about it on his Facebook wall. Lamberti included a description of the suspects and the make of their car. Within two days, a homeowner called 911 saying people matching that description were next door. From this tip, the police were able to make four arrests.

According to the Sheriff, normally it would have taken months for the police to make arrests through traditional Crime Watch and Neighborhood Watch programs. Social media has been a particularly useful tool in solving non-traditional crimes like prescription drug abuse and identity theft.

By employing social media to connect with constituents, the Sheriff’s department is able to solve more crimes faster and go after cases that have become lower priority amid budget cuts.

Gov 2.0 Technology For Safer Cities

The benefits of the Gov 2.0 tools adopted are wide-ranging. Technology, when used correctly, can actually provide better civic engagement, information and government. Leveraging free social media tools like Facebook is just one easy step government can take towards Gov 2.0.

What do you think about the relationship between public safety and social media?