Friday, December 22, 2006

The online undercover cop

How amazing is to see that some authorities are really taking seriously the transformation of our everyday life with the incorporation of high tech elements and faster communications. It is not only that police departments across the world are now more effective in storing data from people to make it easier to track and identify criminals, but there are some specific organizations, such as the Hamilton Police Department in Ontario, Canada, that are finding really creative ways to take advantage of the popular services available in the web, to which many users have access, to perform their job more effectively.
It is just that the fore mentioned Police Department succeeded in trapping an alleged murderer with the help of YouTube. The operation was not really complex: the authorities only had to upload a video, that was 72 seconds long. Such video was actually the closed circuit television (CCTV) of a store, in which the suspect appeared.
The crime that they were prosecuting was the murder of a 22 year old person named Ryan Milner. He was stabbed after a hip hop concert that took place in Hamilton. Considering that fact, their reasoning was that potential witnesses of the crime would be people between their late teens and their early twenties, who probably spend a lot of time surfing through the web... and probably, watching videos. Then YouTube would be the ideal channel to spread the images and to see if somebody can recognize the suspect.
Surprisingly, the video was watched around 40,000 times. Some people provided useful information about the suspect to the Police, which led to the eventual capture of the individual that the authorities were looking for.
If you're thinking of looking for the video in YouTube, I'm afraid to say that the Hamilton Police Department decided to remove it from the web, as there is no further need to show it because they already caught the person (named George Gallo, 24) they were looking for.
However, although we're not able to watch the video anymore, it is necessary to make a special recognition to the Hamilton Police Department for their creativity and astuteness to solve that specific crime. Are we witnessing the beginning of a new era in criminal investigation and prosecution? Time will say.


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