Browse and bust: Social media helps cops solve 38 cases in two months

Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador answers questions during an interview with Malay Mail at his office in Bukit Aman Kuala Lumpur July 17, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador answers questions during an interview with Malay Mail at his office in Bukit Aman Kuala Lumpur July 17, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 — While debunking fake news on social media is an unwelcome drain on police resources, Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador said such technology also has its benefits and helped his agency solve 38 crime cases in two months.

The inspector-general of police said he was told this during a recent briefing from the Classified Criminal Investigation Unit (D5) under the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that was assigned to “browse-and-bust.”

The unit informed him that the investigations were built using mobile phone footage that was posted on social media platforms, leading to charges being filed in these 38 cases.

“The D5 and the CID department have conducted their task very efficiently. While there have been a lot of dirt being spun around and made viral in social media, at the same time there have been plenty of genuine crime cases captured on video by members of the public.

“The D5 was tasked to tackle this and they have acted promptly. Bukit Aman CID director Datuk Huzir Mohamed told me that three-quarters of viral videos involving cases such as snatch theft, robberies and road bullies spread around the cyber world has been solved and brought to court,” he told Malay Mail during a special interview held in his office at Bukit Aman police headquarters recently.

Abdul Hamid said he personally encouraged people to post genuine crime cases they have witnessed on social media.

Such efforts towards community policing aided his agency in enforcing the law, the IGP said when pointing out that the police could not be omnipresent.

“So since there are always people on the ground they somehow get hold of their camera phones and they record it and upload on social media almost immediately and the D5 is simultaneously alerted to it.

“This helps us to track down criminals fast, so I encourage these things,” he said adding that the technology can be both beneficial and harmful.

“People nowadays we can’t expect them to come to the police station, they don't want to do that, this way is easier for them, most of them don't mean any harm,” he said, referring to uploading experiences on social media.

Abdul Hamid pointed out, however, that there are some who have ill intentions and upload content without verification.

“Remember the video of a traffic officer demanding a bribe, that video surfaces every now and then and the officers still have to check on it and this is a waste of time and manpower.

“Things like this is when social media gives us lots of problems. Apart from that speculation on ongoing cases can also interrupt investigations, this is the challenges police face when it comes to handling stuff posted on social media,” he added.

When asked if it was necessary for police to increase manpower in D5 to handle the volume of cases emerging on social media daily, the IGP said this was not yet essential.

“I don't think we need a bigger team to handle social media. The Public Service Department had made it clear that they are not going to strengthen the police force with more manpower.

“I think 135,000 men in blue are enough for me. The only thing we need to do is some reshuffling here and there.

“Priorities change daily, so the only thing we need to do constantly is to act accordingly to the changes that are taking place,” he said.

Abdul Hamid, who prefers the police force to be versatile, said: “When you see that on one side there is a lot of things going on we just need to move more men to that department.

“That is why it is important for the force to be very agile and you cannot afford to be rigid and keep on asking for more manpower. I have got to be fair.”

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