Social Media’s Role in Law Enforcement

Local News Stories

ZANESVILLE, Ohio – Social Media has become a platform that gives many people a voice and a platform for many more to receive information. However there are times where the information isn’t always accurate.

The sheriff’s department uses social media to update residents with snow emergencies as well as posting persons of interest photos. Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz shared how the sheriff’s department utilizes social media to inform the public and follow leads during investigations.

“I think about the public safety, I mean that’s my number one concern,” Lutz said. “And so if there’s something out there that’s detrimental to our community, obviously we want to put it out there and to get the story out to make sure people understand what’s happening from an official standpoint. And also if I can take away some of their concern or take away some of their uneasiness then that’s obviously what I want to try to do.”

Sometimes the sheriff’s department will withhold information from a press release to prevent a criminal case from being tried outside the courtroom or to protect victims and/or their families.

Recently, Lutz has become concerned about a rise in inaccurate and false postings that have began appearing across social media over the past six months and asked people to be mindful to the sources of their information.

“It’s very easy for any person to sit behind any social media platform and put on there whatever they feel like typing, whether it has any merit or not, whether it’s truthful or not, or whether it’s just pure speculation and rumor,” Lutz said.

The sheriff’s office does not monitor social media 24/7 but randomly keeps an eye on it throughout the day and always appreciates the help they receive from people in the community who contribute information via social media. But if you have something that needs to be reported, you should contact the sheriff’s department dispatcher via telephone.

Matthew Morris
Matt joined WHIZ in 2014 as a part-time radio board operator. In 2018, he graduated from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism's Carr Van Anda program where he earned an Outstanding Entrepreneurship award for his Photo-Journalism work at area speedways. Matt is a native of Morgan County who is familiar with the layout and history of Southeastern Ohio.