CHP uses social media to send alerts and get valuable tips from motoring public

The image that the CHP uses to post alerts to social media.
The image that the CHP uses to post alerts to social media. Robert Montano

The California Highway Patrol is communicating with the public through social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. With more than 105,000 Facebook followers here in San Joaquin Valley alone, the CHP can reach thousands in an instant. So, what kind of information does the CHP share on social media? Along with updating the public on possible roadway closures that may affect morning and evening commutes, the CHP utilizes several alert systems that are designed to distribute critical information immediately. This provides the public an opportunity to assist us with up-to-date information, which may ultimately assist us in saving lives and capturing criminals. Here is a look at the various alert systems used by the CHP.

▪ Amber alert: The Amber alert which was the first of the “Alert” systems, was created to better coordinate the efforts of local and state law enforcement agencies in the timely recovery of abducted children. The system relies on the swift notification to police agencies and the public when a child has been abducted. The CHP is currently the designated statewide coordinator for the deployment of the Amber alert and since 2002, the system has been activated 290 times, resulting the rescue or safe finding of 345 children.

▪ Silver alert: The Silver alert system allows law enforcement agencies through the CHP’s Emergency Notification and Tactical Alert Center to broadcast regional or statewide alerts when at-risk individuals are deemed to be missing. In order for this alert system to be deployed, the missing person must be 65 years or older, developmentally disabled or cognitively impaired. Since 2013, the Silver alert has resulted in the safe recovery of 48 at-risk individuals

▪ Blue alert: The goal of the Blue alert system is to provide immediate information to the public regarding a violent suspect. Social media broadcasts and other resources are used to solicit information from the public in hopes of a swift and safe apprehension as well as warning of a potentially dangerous individual. Many San Joaquin Valley residents may recall seeing this alert after the recent tragic death of Newman Police Department Corporal Ronil Singh. Information regarding the description of the suspect and his vehicle was broadcast to over a half a million users on the CHP’s Twitter account. This Blue alert played a large role in the successful apprehension of Corporal Singh’s suspected killer. To date, California has issued a total of nine blue alerts.

CHP officer Robert Montano writes the On Duty column for The Bee. Fresno Bee file

When social media is not being used to broadcast these vital alert systems, the CHP utilizes the platforms to improve its community engagement. Transparency is essential for law enforcement’s partnerships with the public; the CHP encourages the public to reach out to us via social media. Accounts like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provide the community an additional forum to ask questions, voice concerns and provide suggestions on ways we can improve our community policing efforts. These accounts also allow the public to interact with officers on a personal level. Notably, the CHP took part in the law enforcement lip sync challenge. The Department’s video which depicts the various locations throughout California in which we serve has been viewed more than 4,000,000 times worldwide. So, if you happen to be on social media, please be sure to follow our CHP accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

CHP Officer Robert Montano can be reached at rmontano@chp.ca.gov. For more from the CHP Central Division, go to the division’s Facebook page.