SOCIAL MEDIA FOR CRIME PREVENTION. PNP deputy chief for operations, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, stresses the need for police officers to utilize social media in monitoring peace and order situations in their areas, in a speech at the Police Regional Office 5 headquarters in Albay on Wednesday (Feb. 12, 2020). Citing some cases, Eleazar said social media posts could be helpful in apprehending suspects in crimes. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the PNP Deputy Chief for Operations)

MANILA -- Police officers should utilize social media in monitoring peace and order situations in their areas, a ranking police official said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, deputy chief for operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said social media has been useful in crime prevention efforts as netizens are now posting information on crimes and other incidents that could lead to the apprehension of criminals.

"The Filipino people whom we vow to serve and protect are now more active in all social media platforms with the advent of new technology. So I encourage you to adopt by being social media active too," Eleazar said in his speech during a visit to the Police Regional Office 5 (Bicol) in Legazpi City, Albay, which was forwarded to reporters.

He also urged police officers cops to adapt to the changing times for effective policing, stressing that this "one of the essences of our transformation programs".

Eleazar said that the PNP chief himself, Gen. Archie Gamboa, has been very supportive and even encouraging new innovations in crime prevention strategies.

"The PNP leadership is ready to support you for any innovative policing programs that you wish to craft and implement. So think out of the box in order for us to sustain our goal of being steps ahead against all criminal elements," he said.

Among the strategies now being implemented is the creation of Facebook pages and Twitter accounts at the station levels.

The social media accounts of the PNP, Eleazar said, are also effective in reaching out to the communities to get their support and cooperation in peace and order measures.

"We encourage you to do so and we hope to hear from your best and bright ideas for effective law enforcement," said Eleazar.

Eleazar, a former PNP's Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) chief, said that based on his observation, netizens tend to post their complaints and other peace and order-related incidents that they know in their social media accounts.

In some cases, he said social media posts resulted in the arrest of suspects in crimes ranging from simple road rage incidents to some high-profile ones.

As such, he said policemen can now directly get information from the people through social media, especially those which are going viral.

Eleazar said this trend should be taken advantage of by the police as effective crime prevention and crime solution also include adopting all the available technology.

"It is in the social media that they spend more time and it is the social media that they use as a tool of information-sharing for illegal deeds and activities, let us reach out to them by intensifying the police presence in the social media. So it is inevitable for us in the PNP to include social media in the planning and implementation of crime prevention and peace and order-related measures," he added.

Eleazar, who used to head the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), earlier ordered police commanders to monitor incidents of crime and abuses committed by their personnel on social media.

He also said commanders should veer away from the mindset that social media is only for millennials or young people.

For instance, Eleazar said he forwards information he received or read from social media applications to concerned unit commanders for verification and appropriate action. (PNA)