NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Officers from a Bronx police precinct arrested nearly a dozen gang members on Wednesday, but police didn’t just use their traditional tactics to catch the criminals.
As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reportedly exclusively on Thursday, the Internet is helping officers keep a closer eye on criminals, and lower crime in the area.
Call it a sign of the times. Police officers with the 44th Precinct — an area that includes the south Bronx and Yankee Stadium — are turning to the Internet to help fight crime, and track down known criminals and gang members through their activity on social media websites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and several others.
“Wherever they’re communicating via social media, we’re watching,” 44th Precinct Inspector Kevin Catalina said. “This is specific, targeted enforcements. This isn’t random enforcement. When we go out on the street, we know who our problematic individuals are.”
While criminals are using cryptic codes to post messages and pictures on these websites, officers said they are catching on.
“We look long and hard at these postings and we’re able to figure out often times what they’re saying in this coded language,” Catalina said.
On Wednesday, the precinct’s social media patrols paid off when a six-month investigation finally led to the take-down of 11 “6 Wild” gang members.
Pictures were taken from one gang member’s Facebook page, featuring mounds of cash and other luxury items, with the word “wild” spelled out in $20 bills.
Police and the Special Narcotics Bureau confiscated a gun and the gang members were indicted on several charges, like robbery and first-degree murder.
These efforts have helped drive down crime throughout the 44th Precinct, an area historically known for high crime.
Overall, crime in the 44th Precinct is down 24 percent from 2011. That includes murders, robberies, burglaries and assaults
“Advantages of crime being down throughout the precinct is it’s also safer to come to Yankee Stadium than it was 10-12 years ago,” Catalina said.
It’s all being done to make the area safer for both residents and visitors.
The 44th Precinct also credited community involvement with helping to lower crime.
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