WESTERN NEW YORK - It's a new age in crime fighting, and many local police agencies are turning to social media to help them solve cases big and small.
The New York State Police has Facebook and Twitter pages where the agency posts everything from composite sketches of suspects to pictures of community events.
"Nothing will ever replace good old fashioned police work, but Facebook and Twitter have been like a tool on our belt," said Trooper Jeff Bebak.
Hamburg Police started using Twitter two years ago and added Facebook to their list of crime fighting tools a few months later.
"This is a good way to interact with the public. We've had people comment, simple things like they like the new look of our police cars, when is the next exam to become a police officer," said Detective Thomas Brown.
In addition to Facebook, Amherst Police post surveillance videos to YouTube in the hopes of getting tips from the public.
"Between those two in the past year, we've had around 40 or so identifications that have led to an arrest," said Officer Craig Johnson.
The Niagara County Sheriff's Department recently launched a smart phone app. Users can access everything from the sex offender database to a list of active warrants. They can also leave anonymous tips.
"We're still understanding some of the capabilities. This is a starting point for us. We're always looking to move forward. Share some of those technological advances with the public," said Captain Michael Dunn.
None of the social media sites are monitored 24/7, so 911 is still the way to go for an emergency.