CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Law enforcement officers are turning more to Facebook and YouTube to track and identify underage drinking.
Social media are giving police new tools to investigate cases in which minors are involved in alcohol-related crashes, fatal falls or sexual assaults, said Gary Robinson, spokesman for the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration.
ABCA officers can monitor Facebook party invitations to find where liquor or beer is served to minors and can watch YouTube videos of parties to spot offenders, Robinson said.
More than 40 ABCA officers from around the country were in Charleston on Friday for the National Liquor Law Enforcement Academy. The annual academy focused on topics to train ABCA officers with the latest trends and programs, including the role of using the Internet to track underage sale and consumption.
"We all have the same challenges, but we are given different tools to deal with them," Robinson said.
In March, West Virginia University students were the subjects of a viral documentary during St. Patrick's Day celebrations. The video depicted students drinking heavily, setting fires and other illegal behavior. School officials, police and ABCA officers watched the video and issued citations to some of the students who drank underage.
Robinson said ABCA officers were shown a similar video shot at an unnamed college before and after a football game.
"You would have thought you were in a war zone," Robinson said. "There were cars being overturned and cars on fire and rioting. It made the few incidents in Morgantown look like child's play."
The video was shown to get ABCA officers thinking about how to spot offenders and aid police in their investigations.