NJ police departments turn to social media for backup

EDISON - A growing number of New Jersey police departments are using social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to help them fight crime, and some departments are already seeing results.

Two days after Paterson police posted pictures of a machete attack on Facebook, they had someone in custody. Police say the exposure that Tyree Seegers, 22, had was what led to him surrendering. Prior to the post, Seegers had been on the lam for more than a month.

Professor John Paitakes, from the Department of Criminal Justice at Seton Hall University, says it makes sense for police to use social media, and for Paterson police it's also a matter of staffing. The department laid off 125 officers earlier this year.

Other departments that have posted video on social media sites include the Somerset County Prosecutors Office and Gloucester Township police, which posted video of a shoplifting suspect dancing in the aisles of a Kmart store on YouTube. After posting the video, police received numerous tips and soon had a 26-year-old Stratford man under arrest.

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