The relationship between crime and social media in the Magic Valley

Mencl suggests that the feeling of increased crime can be distorted by exposure
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 5:25 PM MDT
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MAGIC VALLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — The month of May has seen multiple shootings in and related to the Magic Valley, something local law enforcement is taking very seriously.

“Twin Falls grows, not just in the city limits but in the county as well,” said Sgt. Ken Mencl with the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office. “We see calls that keep our guys busy.”

Following a stretch that saw multiple violent incidents, the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office will often reflect on why the frequency is increasing.

Mencl tells me growth in the area has yet to be proven as a direct cause of increased violent crime.

“One year we’ll see particularly high numbers and the year after that, we won’t have a homicide. It’s situational and how people just get along in the community,” he said.

Mencl suggests that the feeling of increased crime can be distorted by exposure and that social media is playing a role.

“We see a lot of people talking about it on social media and I think, maybe, that’s why it feels like it’s so much in our face and we feel the raw emotion and we sense the tragedy and the feelings going through the community. It feels like gloom and doom,” he said.

One person who sees that relationship is Gooding’s Maraleh Hansen who runs the Facebook page Gooding Idaho News Share.

“We decided to put together a page so we could communicate back and forth on local news and events, stuff like that,” she explained.

Hansen tells me she does see the increase in crime discussion on pages like hers but hopes visitors to her page can see the good some there are doing.

“They’re actually picking up the slack. They’re providing blankets, they’re providing food, they’re providing shelter,” Hansen said.

Hansen says she will continue to report what is important, even if it’s negative. “There is also a lot of good going on at the same time. You have to keep a healthy balance on this too,” she said.

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