PHOENIX — Police with shrinking resources are increasingly using social media to their advantage. Strategically speaking, it is more efficient to prevent crime than to deal with its consequences. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google provide more opportunity to do just that. Police Social Media allows law enforcement agencies to be more informed and enhance their prevention activities.

An example of such forward thinking is the “VIPER” (Visibility, Intelligence, Partnerships, Education and Resources) project of the Boca Raton Police Department. Through social media they have enhanced communication within their community by not only educating them with safety and crime prevention tips, but informing them with traffic and local crime reports. A tweeting police department is truly engaged with the people they protect.

Police are using social media, like Facebook, to inform and provide a forum for open discussion and two communications. Through applications like “Nixle”, Boca Raton send targeted alerts and advisories direct to residents via short messages services (SMS) over mobile phones. Chief Dan Alexander’s Twitter account is busy and on a regular basis blogs to his residents.