Buffalo Police are crediting the use of social media - and the public's cooperation sharing information through it - with helping them bring several recent cases to quick and safe conclusions.
Less than 24 hours after being reported as missing, a Buffalo mother and son were located in Niagara County. Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said more than 153,000 people shared the department's missing persons alert, issued late Wednesday. By noon Thursday, the mother and son were spotted.
"It's not unusual, we tend to get a very high following on our social media platforms," said Rinaldo. "But especially a missing adult with a child, I think those types of stories generate more public concern, so they tend to get shared more widely."
Rinaldo credits an active social media-using public with helping them in two other recent cases, both involving threats of violence against highly populated venues. One involved a teenager who allegedly posted a threat on a newly created Facebook account, targeting Hutchinson Tech High School. The other case involved a suspect accused of posting online threats of violence, including murder, against attendees of the recent Buffalo Pride parade.
"They quickly responded," said Captain Rinaldo of the public, who forwarded those threats to the attention of authorities. "We work very closely with our other law enforcement agencies, state, local and federal. Using those resources, we were within two hours of receiving that report and get that person into custody."
The exposure of Buffalo Police social media posts is growing, in Rinaldo's words, by leaps and bound.
"I'd like to thank the public," he said. "I think they're owed a debt of gratitude because they're really doing a great job of helping us, helping other police departments, keep our community safe."