San Francisco's police department has an 'Instagram officer' and is looking to hire tech-savvy cops

Late last month, an appeals court in California affirmed a firearms conviction that used Instagram photos as evidence.

The defendant, a minor whose Instagram account was named “40glock,” had posted pictures of himself with a gun tucked into his waistband in 2013. Police used these images as the basis to perform a probation search of his house, which led to his conviction.

Though the thought that Instagram photos can be used as evidence in court might not surprise you, the court documents also revealed that the San Francisco Police Department has at least one officer dubbed an “Instagram officer,” who is adept at nabbing criminals on social media.

The following appears in the court’s ruling:

San Francisco Police Officers Dave Johnson and Eduard Ochoa testified that they were on routine patrol on October 21, 2013. Throughout that day, Officer Ochoa scanned Instagram, a social media website, looking for postings. Officer Ochoa was the “Instagram officer” in his department and had been so for three or four years. His training and experience had taught him “how to monitor and track individuals through Instagram.”

A San Francisco Police Department spokesperson told Business Insider that their officers may use all social media sites during the course of their investigations. The spokesperson also revealed that they have specialised training in different types of social media, and that certain officers can be designated by their unit as the “Instagram officer” or “Facebook officer” based on their expertise — though these aren’t formal titles.

When asked if the police department was specifically recruiting tech-savvy officers, the spokesperson said it helps if officers have a knowledge and background in tech, though they haven’t begun trying to poach engineers from startups quite yet.

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