The week-long manhunt for three inmates who escaped from the Santa Ana Central Men’s Jail, about a mile away from Santa Ana College, took place mostly online.
A coordinated effort by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s office across various social media outlets replaced boots on the ground.
The tactics employed by law enforcement speedily informed an audience that has migrated from absorbing information through television to Twitter, Instagram and Periscope.
By spreading images and information about the escapees as they themselves received it, the OCSD was able to reach a wide audience through outlets that are continually being viewed
On Periscope, for example, the department broadcast its press conferences live. It then shared the Periscope link through its Twitter feed.
One of the inmates was caught two miles from campus after turning himself in at an auto shop on Harbor Boulevard.
The capture of the remaining two happened after a San Francisco man reported seeing the utility van they stole, which OCSD had circulated pictures of on Twitter.
This modern approach not only helped keep officers out of danger, but also provided the public with peace of mind and with a connection to law enforcement that is unprecedented.