As I’ve said before, Facebook is a new medium, and we’re still culturally negotiating the uses of it. Social media— what began as “something for the kids”— has evolved into a network most people use everyday, and we’re still discovering new social possibilities for this platform.
This week, Florida police officers used Facebook as a tool for crisis intervention, preventing what could have been a deadly situation.
According to blogger Keli Sipperley, “A 47-year-old man had barricaded himself in a shed outside his home after arguing with his family.” The police report said that the man claimed he was going to do something terrible, and stated that he had access to a gun.
As CBS reports, the Sherrif’s office didn’t know how to get to the man, but they knew he had access to the internet, so they found him on Facebook. They read his profile to learn more about him and quickly sent him a Facebook friend request.
Almost instantly, the man responded to friend request, and the officers were able to communicate with him through Facebook’s chat feature/ Here’s a part of the exchange:
After this back-and-forth, the man burned down the shed, but emerged before his life was threatened.
“This is the first time we have used Facebook in a crisis situation,” Corporal Art Morrison said. “We’ve never used Facebook to negotiate. We’ve never texted or sent anything through the internet, so for us this is a first time ever.”
The man was taken into custody for a mental evaluation.