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Study: Police Are No Longer Social Media Skeptics

What began as a diversion primarily used by teenagers has grown into a useful tool used by most law enforcement agencies, according to a new report from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Law enforcement is taking social media seriously, according to a recent survey showing that most agencies use social media and almost all agencies are interested in using sites like Facebook and Twitter to solve crimes. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Center for Social Media released its third-annual social media survey on Oct. 2, revealing social media as a fast-growing trend in law enforcement.

Nearly 62 percent of the 600 agencies polled claimed to have a written social media policy, whereas two years ago only 35 percent claimed to have such a policy in place. More agencies said they believe social media helps improve community relations and help solve crimes than two years ago.

Overall, it appears that almost all law enforcement agencies are either using social media or interested, with 92 percent of agencies claiming to use social media sites, with nearly 70 percent of those not using social media planning to begin using it within the next year.

Facebook came away as the most popular platform, with 90 percent of agencies using social media claiming use. Almost 50 percent of agencies using social media said they used Twitter, about 37 percent said they used Facebook, and 28 percent said they used Nixle, an alert service designed for government and law enforcement.

The most common barriers cited by agencies not using social media were shortages on time, shortages of personnel, and security concerns. Only about 14 percent said they believed social media wasn't appropriate for their communities.

For all the details, complete with charts and pie graphs, view the full report on the IACP website.