For PPD, social media = solving crimes

The Philadelphia Police Department's YouTube channel, which is used to post surveillance videos when cops are looking for suspects, has become one of the department's best new tools in solving crimes.  

As of this week, the channel has gotten more than one million online hits. Not only that, it's turned into a reliable way to crack a case. Cops are now solving up to 25 percent of the cases for which video is posted online, said Philadelphia Lt. Ray Evers, of the public affairs unit. The success of the YouTube presence has led the department to start training detectives in how to use the site, so that officers know how to get video from crime scenes online as soon as possible.

In addition, police said the department's Facebook page has 38,000 followers, making it the most-followed of any law enforcement agency in the country. The PPD's Twitter handle, @Phillypolice, has more than 5,300 followers.

These are recent developments - the department has had a social media presence since 2009 - but these early results are a step in the right direction, according to Evers.

"It would be negligent for the police not to make use of this technology to reach the people that we're empowered to serve," he said.