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Prosecutor On Facebook

October 9, 2015, 10:14 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Prosecutor On Facebook

From posting surveillance video of a crime in progress to adding pictures of wanted suspects, social media is helping law enforcement solve cases.

In Beadle County, the office prosecuting those crimes is also reaching out to the public through Facebook. Beadle County State's Attorney Mike Moore doesn't want mystery surrounding his job.

"I've always been of the opinion we should, we're a public office, I'm an elected official. A lot of what we do is public and I should make that information available to the public, the information that I can make available," Moore said.

His office had a website that didn’t receive a lot of visits. He asked an intern for ideas. She suggested social media and helped the office start a Facebook page.

"It kind of went crazy when we first put it on there. We got a lot of likes. A lot of people follow us, a lot of contacts. Every day, 6,000-7,000 people may visit this site," Moore said.

The office uses it for different reasons. Earlier this year, some kids caused a lot of damage vandalizing property in Huron. With multiple victims, many wanted information about the case. Moore kept them updated through Facebook.

His office also posts updates about felony cases and lets people know who's in court every week. That list has been a popular one, and the office hears about it when it's not posted on time.

"I found that interesting, that people are following it, knowing when it should be there and if it's not there, they're asking us what's going on," Moore said.

Moore and his staff are also trying to use social media as a platform to prevent crime from happening in Beadle County.

As part of domestic violence awareness month, his office is running a campaign promoted through its Facebook page. Staff and volunteers at Jan Manolis Family Safe Center are hopeful for results.

"Every month it is important to us but October is kind of our chance to get out there and raise more awareness within the community, and the states attorney’s office has been doing a great job helping us do that as well," volunteer Nicole Hofer said.

The center tries to raise awareness through multiple means including a fundraiser coming up this weekend. Getting the word out, they say, can be a matter of life and death.

"So that way more victims would come out and feel more comfortable coming and talking to us. We want to reach as many people as possible and even people that have not been in this situation, that way they know what victims are going through," assistant director Michaela Biel said.

Even though that's the focus in October, Moore wants to use Facebook as a proactive tool to prevent other crimes as well.

"If we have an issue with identity theft or a scam going on in town, we'll put that information on the Facebook page to be aware of something like that," Moore said.

Moore has received a lot of positive feedback about his office's social media use. He's also heard complaints from those who don't want family members' names on the page.

"That could serve as a preventative measure," Moore said. "I mean, if you don't want your name to appear on the court list on the states attorney's Facebook page which thousands of people look at every week, don't commit the crime."

Moore says he removes comments on the Facebook page as little as possible. His office will remove comments with inappropriate language since it is a page connected with a government office.

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