Top Cop: There's a 'Huge Social Media Component' to Policing These Days

By Erica Demarest on October 28, 2013 11:34am 

 Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy speaks Monday at the South Chicago Police District station, 2255 E. 103rd St.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy speaks Monday at the South Chicago Police District station, 2255 E. 103rd St.
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DNAinfo/Erica Demarest

SOUTH DEERING — Amid reports that Chicago police are teaming up with Facebook to block users who post criminal content, Supt. Garry McCarthy said on Monday there's "a huge social media component" to his policing strategy — but he's keeping it under wraps.

"Some things we really shouldn't talk about in public," McCarthy said. "Our strategies can be compromised by speaking about them publicly."

After a panel in Philadelphia last week, reports circulated that a "senior representative" from the Police Department claimed the city's cops were working with Facebook to permanently block users who post what's deemed criminal content.

During the panel — which was hosted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police — a panelist claimed Facebook could identify and permanently block a person's phone or computer from using the site.

McCarthy wouldn't address the claims, but did say Chicago police use social media to aid in their investigations.

"Obviously, there’s a huge social media component to law enforcement these days," the superintendent said Monday at the South Chicago Police District station, 2255 E. 103rd St.

But "I don't want to speak about investigative prowess ... because it can compromise some of the advantages that we’re finding."

The top cop said the Police Department plans to expand its use of social media.

Also in line for a big expansion is the Police Department's overtime budget.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed 2014 city budget reportedly allots $71 million in overtime for police officers. That's more than double the $32 million budgeted for 2013.

Saturating crime "hot spots" with overtime officers has been a large part of the superintendent's crime-fighting strategy. He claims crime is down, in part, because of those officers.

"It's cheaper to pay overtime than to hire fully loaded police officers with health benefits and so on," McCarthy explained on Monday.

Plus, new officers won't be ready for nine months.

"Those officers go through six months of training in the academy and then three months of field training," McCarthy said. With overtime, "We can have an experienced officer on the street tomorrow."

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