On June 25th, a fugitive, Jason Valdez, took a hostage and locked himself in a hotel room after police had spotted him. The police shut down his cell service, but didn’t realize they couldn’t block his data service.
The man started discussing the negotiations of police activity on Facebook. He talked to his friends and relatives about the situation and posted a photo of himself and his hostage. Police were not sure how to shut down his page. The CNN news story on this situation explains that both good and bad can come of using social media for fighting crime:
- During the stand off, relatives and friends were posting on Valdez’s page encouraging him to do the right thing and let the girl go.
- Others tipped Jason off to police movements and police began to fear others might help him in other ways.
- Police feared the fugitives supporters might come on the scene. Since social media helps news travel faster than any other form of communication, supporters, who knew what was going on the instant it was happening could have come on to the location making things much more complex for police.
In this video, assistant chief Randy Watt explains that “we were gaining more than we were losing by allowing the Facebook
activity to continue.” This is an insightful comment that will potentially change the way police operate during crisis moments like this one. Since the fugitive was acting more like himself online because of the small layer of separation, he seemed more willing to listen.
Family and friends, influential people in his life, were telling him to make peace and do the right thing. Although this story didn’t end in the best way possible, social media has the potential to change negotiations by reaching out to people in high stress situations.