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Utica Police using social media more and more to catch criminals

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The Utica Police Department is closing in on its 100th arrest made with evidence gathered on social media.

Four years ago, Utica police decided to post a video of a crime on Facebook. They hoped someone on the social media site would recognize the suspect or provide other clues.

It worked, says Lieutenant Steve Hauck, and they’ve been using Facebook more and more since.

"Now I don’t hold back," he said. "Even if the photo’s terrible or the video’s terrible, I put it out, because you’d be surprised what people recognize."

About 38,000 people follow the department’s page. Hauck credits Facebook with 95 arrests so far. They hope to reach 100 by the end of the year. It’s a shift from using social media for community relations and announcements.

But Hauck says they still need to do some police work after someone provides a clue.

"Just giving me a name is only opening the door," he said. "That just gives up an opportunity to start somewhere."

He says the most surprising thing has been people turning themselves in after they see themselves on the site.