San Francisco’s Police Department Has an ‘Instagram Officer’


Over the past several years, there have been a number of arrests that have resulted from photos posted to Instagram. It seems that oftentimes criminals can’t resist sharing photos of their illegal activities online for everyone (including police investigators) to see.

Perhaps in response to this strange trend, the San Francisco Police Department is now employing at least one “Instagram officer” who patrols the pages of Instagram in search of lawbreakers.

Business Insider reports that this fact was found in the legal documents of a recent case in which Instagram photos were used to help convict a man of violating his probation with a firearm.

Here’s what a section of the court ruling says:

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.”

Officers are also trained to scour photos and postings on other social networks, a SFPD spokesperson tells Business Insider. In addition to “Instagram officer,” another unofficial title used within the department includes “Facebook officer.”

If this trend catches on in police departments around the country, “How to Browse Photos Online” may soon become a common course for officers.