WARMINGTON: Cops now 'walk the beat' on social media
February 13, 2019
February 13, 2019 6:42 PM EST
Marcella Zoia, 19, is pictured while leaving Toronto's College Park courts on Feb. 13, 2019. (Jack Boland, Toronto Sun)
A beer can hurled at a baseball player, a bucket of water tossed at a subway passenger, food projectiles targeted at politicians and now a chair thrown from a 20th-floor balcony of a downtown condo.
You can throw it, but you can’t hide from today’s social media sleuths.
“This chair throwing is the highest reported case that I have ever seen,” said Const. Scott Mills, Toronto Police’s social media officer. “It started on Saturday on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms and didn’t stop.”
Online media policing has come of age.
“We now walk the beat on social media,” said Mills. “We work in partnership with the public.”
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Hundreds contacted police about the viral video of a woman — allegedly Marcella Zoia, 19 — chucking the chair toward the Gardiner Expressway 20 floors below.
Within minutes, people not only figured out who she was but found her online profile, too.
Marcella Zoia, 19 (INSTAGRAM)
Police ended up asking Zoia to turn herself in to be charged with public mischief endangering life.
“I want to thank everybody who reported this and let them know we appreciate it,” said Mills.
It wasn’t always this way.
Remember when Luka Magnotta was identified in 2012 posting a murder on a gore site? A U.S. man noticed it but couldn’t get Canadian police to take him seriously.
With the reponse to the latest video, you can see how things have changed.
Today, officers, including Mills, Const. David Hopkinson, Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook, York Regional Police Const. Andy Pattenden and OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, not only monitor what’s happening online, but participate.
They develop contacts and offer the public a point person to contact.
“We receive many direct messages on Twitter,” said Mills. “We respond to it but it is still unofficial so it is important for people to contact police by phone or in person, as well.”
That said, in 2019, if it comes in on social media, police are on it.
Woman, 19, faces three charges in balcony chair tossing
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Woman wanted after chair tossed off Toronto condo balcony
“The public are the best detectives a police service has,“ said former Toronto police chief David Boothby at a CrimeStoppers event last year.
And with social media, the public can very quickly provide a pool of detectives numbering in the hundreds of thousands.