INDIANAPOLIS—Social media is a powerful tool in figuring out where a crime could occur before it happens, says the leader of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition Reverend Charles Harrison.
That coalition has a team that tracks “what’s being talked about in the neighborhood,” says Harrison.
He also believes Facebook feeds are increasingly foreshadowing violent confrontations and other criminal behavior.
“Police and community groups have to start paying attention to social media,” says Harrison.
Content on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social apps — sometimes more accessible to community groups than police — can provide a wealth of investigative information.
A 40-year-old woman from Indianapolis was shot and killed on the city’s northwest side recently. The victim had posted a video of herself on Facebook 24 hours before the fatal shooting, saying her life was being threatened. Police declined to comment on the role of social media in the unsolved killing.
Ten Point leaders tell police about their social media concerns if they feel the situation warrants police intervention, Harrison said.
They also conduct community outreach with the goal of deescalating conflict before a crime is committed.
Harrison recalled the impact of de-escalation talks with community leaders in his hometown, near Louisville, after his stepbrother was shot and killed. Harrison says the rise of social media could make it easier to identify and contact youth in similar situations today.
“I was so angry as a 14-year-old [boy] that I wanted to seek revenge against those that had killed my brother,” he said. “My life could have been very different if it was not for individuals intervening in my life at an early age.”