Sheriff Turns to YouTube to Fight Crime

Knoxville (WVLT) - You can find everything on this website from crazy home videos to pet tricks, but the YouTube craze has also recently become a crime-fighting tool for the Knox County Sheriff's Department.

WVLT Volunteer TV’s Liz Tedone explains how a suspect’s fate was sealed with the click of mouse.

Forty-nine-year-old purse-snatching suspect Richard Raiford is wearing sunglasses inside this Food City in Powell, perhaps to conceal his identity, but when the Knox County Sheriff's Office posted the surveillance video of Raiford on the popular video website YouTube, they ended up catching him.

“We actually had about six calls of people who knew, once they saw this individual, knew who this individual was,” says Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones.

The sheriff's department initially turned to YouTube so it could free up the server on its department website. On YouTube, surfers can watch the video as many times as they'd like. The sheriff's office has one other case also posted on the YouTube site, a robbery at the Shell Station on Campbell Station Road back in March.

“Things like this, you look for things, you look for tools that get your message out,” Sheriff Jones says.

And Sheriff Jones says law enforcement across the country may eventually lobby for a special police category on the popular site. “And I think in the future we probably will, once we can show how effective this is, I think there will be a category just for that.”

We contacted YouTube officials to see if they've considered a special police category and we haven't heard from them.

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