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How social media influences what we do

Jeff Tate
by Jeff Tate, Police Chief01/24/2018 2:15 pm
Updated: 01/24/2018

It probably goes without saying, but social media has changed how we investigate cases and, frankly, how and when we release information about them. Sometimes, our standard police investigation procedures do not match what the public is demanding. There is no clearer example of that than the recent case involving Shakopee students who posted threatening photos on Snapchat.

People were angry and wanted to know how these students were going to be dealt with. We were angry as well. This was a stupid prank that caused great consternation in the community. That said, there will always be information we can’t share with the public. It could be protected data, or it could be that our investigation is open and active. No police department is going to give a detailed play-by-play of an active investigation on Facebook. 

There is often much more to a case than what a photo or news report may show. Complex investigations, such as a homicide, are never solved in 24 hours, except on TV. We’ve become a society that wants everything instantly, and while we understand, those expectations do not necessarily align with the justice system. Facebook justice is no substitute for courtroom justice in our field. Our department maintains an above-average case clearance rate because we put complete cases together. The only hurry we’re in is to get it done right! 

We promise to always release information to ensure public safety. When we say a threat is not credible or tell you there is no threat to the general public, it’s because we’ve investigated the situation to a point where we feel confident saying so. We won’t be able to tell you every reason for our conclusion instantly, but we ask you to trust our process and know we’d never put any member of the public in a compromising or unsafe situation.

If you do have a question, please ask us. Call us at 952-233-9400. I’d much rather deal with a direct question than have someone throw it out on social media.