LAPD Northeast Division’s newest crime fighting tools are Facebook, Twitter & YouTube

In addition to tracking how many cars have been stolen and homes burglarized, Bill Murphy, Captain of the LAPD Northeast Division, has also been keeping  a close eye on a new set of numbers to measure his division’s performance. But these statistics don’t measure crime. Instead these figures tell him how many people “like” the Northeast Division Facebook page, follow its Twitter feed and, as of last week, have watched its YouTube channel (The stats as of Sunday were 1,690 Facebook “likes,” 589 Twitter followers and 162 YouTube views).  “Our goal is to increase our social media presence,” said Murphy, who is spearheading what is perhaps the LAPD’s most ambitious leap into online outreach.  “That’s a big deal for us this year.”

In the future, Northeast residents can expect to watch police town halls and neighborhood watch meetings live over the Internet and have watch commanders tweet about police pursuits and LAPD helicopter activity. In addition to buying new video equipment for webcasts, the Northeast Division is also purchasing license plate holders for its fleet of squad cars that will read: Follow Us on Twitter.

Last week, Murphy made his YouTube debut with an approximately 15-minute webcast shot in a corner of the station’s cramped Glassell Park station. Murphy concedes the segment – which features him rattling off crime statistics – is too long and clunky. But he promises future programs will be shorter, snappier and more entertaining in a bid to win over and reach out to a young, web-savvy audience. “It’s a great way to get the info out there.”

Murphy said that using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online media are a fast and efficient way to educate the public about public safety issues and warn them about criminal threats.  But one of the challenges he has faced in using these online tools is a generation gap within the ranks when it comes to new media.  “Our younger officers know this stuff.  Our challenge for us is our older officers. They don’t have Facebook. They don’t use Twitter.”

That’s why he has put some younger officers in the division’s Crime Analysis Detail in charge of the Northeast Facebook page.

But Murphy is pushing the use of social media across his division. His staff is currently working on a project that will allow watch commanders, who help supervise and deploy patrol officers,  to spread breaking crime news and bulletins via Twitter seven-days a week. Currently, the division’s Twitter feed is used on a limited basis on weekdays.

Murphy said the officers in charge of the division’s Twitter feed and Facebook page are careful in handling sensitive information. They will not reveal some information that could jeopardize officers in the field or identify suspects by name.  But “at least [residents know what’s going on,” he said.

In addition to Facebook, Twitter and email alerts, Murphy said he has high hopes for webcasts and videos. The first Northeast webcast was shot in the Crime Analysis Detail office – dubbed the “War Room” in the video – with equipment purchased with contributions.  Seated in front of a black screen, Murphy  did not bother to rehears before his first program. He simply referred to sheets of crime stats as officers shot the video in one take and later added some music and special effects. Future segments,  which will be hosted by different Northeast Division officers, will be cut down to five minutes and feature more crime charts, maps and a crime caper.

“We will make it smoother, “but, said Murphy, “it’s not going to look like a Channel 7 news production.”


  1. Look, this is all fine and dandy and cute and hip and cool and playful. But it is an egregiously wasteful and unconscionable way to be using very highly paid police officers, playing in the Internet instead of being out on patrol.

    No sworn officer should be expending any time on this — they are far too highly paid to be spending time on this. If you want this, it should be only with funding for much lower paid civilian employees.

    I certainly hope our mayor has not hired 1,000 more very highly paid police officers so they can play around on the Internet rather than patrol! Every minute they are on the Internet is a minute they are not on patrol. I would not want to be the one in need of a police officer at that minute.

    Capt. Bill Murphy, you should be ashamed of yourself!

  2. Henry, there are many positions within the LAPD for functions beyond patrol. Supervisors (such as captains, lieutenants, etc.), detectives, and myriad specialized units (narcotics, vice, etc.) do not handle patrol radio calls. These positions are required to make the department more effective at serving public safety.

    I am a sworn officer. I have worked in patrol and Special Problems Unit for 4.5 years at Northeast. In January, I was loaned to Northeast’s Crime Analysis Detail – War Room. The War Room has a total of 2 sworn officers and 1 civilian assigned; we are rather proud of the progressive work this small unit produces in crime analysis, intelligence, and social media engagement.

    That said, the patrol plan is the backbone of the LAPD. Staffing of each patrol watch is calculated to meet the needs of the public. When patrol is light (illnesses or injuries), specialized units are activated to handle radio calls for service. For special operations such as May Day, all sworn personnel will suit up and deploy.

    Northeast division is pushing the boundaries of what a War Room produces within LAPD, including the video crime updates. Captain Murphy wanted to make neighborhood watches more time effective. Via a virtual neighborhood watch, he is able to address the entire community with current crime trends and calls for action. We will be adding interactive components this month — beginning with questions from residents thru Facebook & Twitter. And as the article states, we recorded the 15-minute video with 1 take, unrehearsed, with a donated camera and lighting setup.

    Officer P Scheerer
    Northeast Area

    • Good hear there is some police work being done. But leave the police to that, and leave playing around on the Internet to civilians.

      Why are YOU even on the internet surfing and reading Eastsider rather than tending to real police work!? You are WAY you highly paid to be sitting around trolling Eastsider and the rest of the Internet.

      We’ve been told we don’t have enough police officers. Apparently we have too many, so we assign them to surf the Internet.

      • Henry, it’s not “surfing” the Internet. It’s keeping the community informed via social networks. I don’t see anything negative about this. I “liked” them on Facebook and think it’s great to see crime alerts and other useful information on my facebook wall. It makes them more in touch with the community, and engaging. I think it’s great, keep it up LAPD.

  3. Henry – how is this any different from having SLO’s out attending community meeting groups and giving out the same information? If anything – those meetings take up even more time, reach far fewer people, and the people reached at the meetings tend to skew toward the older, more insular crowd who might be less impacted by the same news than the younger crowd reading on facebook or twitter. Those facebook posts and tweets also get “shared” with a wider range than can be reached at community meetings.

    This is a positive development, your arguments otherwise are weak…

  4. relax Henry. it’s a new era, and this is how people keep informed now. they update the pages like once a week (last time was 4 days ago). considering it takes approximately 2 seconds to type a sentence such as “shooting today. we caught the guy,” I wouldn’t worry about officers spending all their time on the internet. posting weekly would add up to less than a half an hour per month (I am generously overestimating) and it allows people to know what’s going on. sounds like a fine idea to me.

  5. Henry How about you stepped up to the plate and volunteer your time to assist with “playing
    With the Internet”.

  6. Well put. Intelligence gathering for purposes of controlling the plague of gang problems in the Northeast area is one thing, but somehow thinking that the youth will magically become enamored with LAPD because officers are “cool and in touch” is ridiculous. Perhaps putting more officers in my neighborhood would be nice for a change. We have local gangs claiming bars and restaurants as their “meeting areas” and biker gangs claiming the same control over local businesses. Tell me how the Internet is going to actually address these issues. You can’t even go bowling in Eagle Rock without wondering if your family is going to take a stray bullet from a bunch of gangsters shooting it out in the parking lot. Take a look at the one square mile surrounding the Northeast Station and you will see that the local gangs have become increasingly brazen with their turf graffiti. This instills fear to the local citizens. This graffiti is a sign of violent clashes soon to come once the weather heats up this summer. So I ask this Captain Murphy, why would you spend all these resources and manpower on such a ridiculous pipe dream when you are capable of deploying officers in a area to actually promote a sense of safety in the local community?

  7. Right In Front of Your Face

    Tweeting updates to residents seems really useful. When the helicopters come closing in we all run inside, not knowing if its some scary gang member on the loose or a just a traffic situation.

    One big question: will followers be able to tweet officers about taggers in progress, drunks in public, hit and runs, etc? Will citizen tweets be responded to? From my experience NE seems reluctant to file police reports for even the most common property crimes and downgrades serious felonies to misdemeanors on the police report in order to improve crime reporting statistics. The political pressure to produce favorable statistics flys in the face of what we all witness every day. Its not getting better, its just not being reported. Will tweets be any different?

    It seems they have a camera savvy crew over at NE. That’s great. Why don’t they reserve some of those funds to put a couple cameras on the street where our gangs sling drugs and shoot at each other. It would be nice to go bowling without having to duck for cover.

  8. LAPD Northeast is not really throwing MORE resources at social media. With our current resources (and I would say we are thin–LAPD’s legendary COMPSTAT reporting also falls on this unit), we are engaging the community. Because my partner and I are officers, we take info from the community directly to the officers who can enforce action–whether that be a patrol, narcotics, gang, vice, or other specialized unit. We literally go to their roll calls with write ups and assignments for enforcement.

    You can tweet to @NortheastArea (official Twitter account) or my semi-personal account (@Northeast_Cu) for responses. Our Watch Commanders will be soon putting out information about hot shots in the area 24/7, as this is a valuable public service that costs nothing (ok, a little time in training).

    For emergencies, we still direct folks to call 911, and call 877-ASK-LAPD for non-emergencies.

  9. I think this is wonderful. I always go straight to Twitter to try to find out what’s going on when the helicopters are swarming in but rarely get answers. I look forward to the increased interaction. It’s an obvious step forward.

    And Henry you are an idiot. I would imagine these trained officers would know how to prioritize their time and would never choose to tweet over responding to a call. Also- why did you assume that officer was responding while on duty?

  10. You can never satisfy everyone in any shape or form.

    Thanks Northeast Division & the rest of the LAPD

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