Crime Watch 8

Community group monitoring social media in effort to prevent crime

Indianapolis community groups monitor social media to prevent crime

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Crime prevention efforts are expanding to digital platforms as community groups seek more effective ways to monitor conflict and engage with youth.

The Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition has a dedicated team that tracks “what’s being talked about in the neighborhood,” group leader Charles Harrison said.

Local Facebook feeds are increasingly foreshadowing violent confrontations and other criminal acts, according to Harrison.

Content on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social apps — sometimes more accessible to community groups than police — can also provide a wealth of investigative information.

The evolving role of social media was among several standout topics discussed Tuesday during WISH-TV’s “City in Crisis” special.

“That Facebook [point], to me, was so interesting,” News 8 reporter Dan Klein noted in his coverage of the live town hall event. “Years ago, if you dissed somebody, one person heard it. Now, you do it on social media and thousands can see and hear it at once, and it’s just part of that new generation.”

A 40-year-old Indianapolis woman was shot and killed on the city’s northwest side a week before “City in Crisis” aired. 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 alert authorities to 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. The rise of social media could make it easier to identify and contact youth in similar situations today, he said.

“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.”