Solving the homicide of Jackline Gore means adapting to changing times
The Pointer's Social Media Monitor is a weekly look at how elected officials and other public civil servants are using their taxpayer-funded resources to shape digital communication aimed at constituents. We feature one public figure or theme each week.
Like many young adults, Jackline Gore dreamt of travelling the world. A student at York University, she inspired other students and faculty with her basketball skills while on the court with the York Lions. She planned on becoming a clinical psychologist, starting a family and creating memories to last a lifetime. She loved spending time with her own family and friends, and lit up every room she was in, according to many who knew her.
“You would smile any time you were present with her,” James Swaka, Jackline’s uncle told the Peel Regional Police.
Her life was cut short by a stray bullet on the morning of July 8th, 2019.
Jackline’s story was recently broadcast across Peel Regional Police’s social media accounts in a video that showcased both a tribute to the promising young woman and a plea to the public, appealing to anyone who may have case-breaking information that could lead to the arrest and conviction for those responsible for her murder.
In the parking lot of the bar on July 8, 2019, Jackline was hit by a stray bullet when gunfire broke out in the area. The video has been broadcast on all of Peel Regional Police’s social media accounts and has had almost 50,000 views since it was first posted online on March 25.
Jackline, a 24-year-old from London, ON, was shot and killed almost two years ago during a night out with her friends at the Fume Bar and Lounge in Mississauga. She was outside, waiting for a ride home, when gunfire broke out. Police have said she was not the intended target.
Offering a $25,000 reward for any tips that can lead to a breakthrough in her case, PRP utilized social media to create a compelling, humanized campaign to remind people that her death is not forgotten. The emotional plea is a stark departure from the typical requests for community assistance, and marks the first time PRP and its social media team have taken such an approach.
“It’s extremely important that we get the community’s assistance in helping us solve this murder to get justice for a family who has lost their daughter, their sister and a friend,” states Peel Police Det. Stephen Nickson in the video.
Peel Police Det. Stephen Nickson
With dedicated communications personnel and almost 24/7 access to a media team, PRP are more than equipped to deal with the shift in information technology that demands accurate information and innovative ways to share it. In a world where cases can go dry no matter the technology at the police’s disposal, and where more and more people are reluctant to come forward with information for a range of reasons, the shift in mentality is needed now more than ever.
The tragic reality is Jackline’s family is not alone in having to endure such a tragic loss in Peel as gun violence has continued to plague local streets at an alarming rate.
Homicides in Peel (not all involving firearms) have been steadily increasing in recent years, jumping 67 percent between 2016 and 2017, 63 percent between 2017 and 2018 and a further 17 percent jump in 2019, leading to the deaths of 31 individuals. However, 2020 saw a drastic reduction in homicides with 16 deaths, potentially a result of the pandemic.
Other forms of violent crime, including assaults, uttering threats, and shootings have also been on the rise. In 2019, the number of rounds discharged in Brampton and Mississauga (Peel police does not break down its crime data by city) increased 41 percent over 2018 with over 700 shots fired over the course of the year. The majority of these shootings are linked to disputes between gangs, which generally devolve into violent turf wars over territory or the local drug trade. Complete data for 2020 is not yet available.
The scene outside Fume Bar and Lounge after Jackline’s death.
“More and more people get their information and news from online sources and media,” says Constable Akhil Mooken, a media relations officer with PRP. “We're adapting how we do things to get the message out there to go on to social media and other online sources so that we can ask our community for help in solving these heinous crimes. [We] also make them aware of crimes that have happened in their community so that they have an understanding that we are out there, that we are working diligently to keep them safe, and they know what's happening around them.”
Armed with a YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and a recent TikTok account, PRP was able to reach thousands of people and new areas of the community that typical media releases and email notifications don’t. Building a narrative with a human story that encapsulates the unjustified loss of life is something residents, both within the region and outside, are naturally drawn to.
“I think anytime you personalize anything, that you make it understood that [these are] real people, real human beings, I think people pay attention to that and say, this could have been my family member or somebody that I knew,” Mooken says.
Peel Regional Police’s narrative-driven efforts in raising awareness have gone noticed by other police authorities. Halton Regional Police Victim Services administrator Kimberley Clark commented on the video posted on Twitter.
Engaging with the community using innovative storytelling is a feat that takes significant effort for police. According to Mooken, PRP employs a team of about 20 people that work on their corporate communications team, including media officers, video producers and supervisors. The video, which took 6 members of their creative team and investigative team about 25 hours to produce, is the first time PRP has produced content that highlights an open case in a narrative format.
While the use of social media to help solve crimes is a relatively new tool for police organizations across the globe, it is one that has quickly become commonplace. A 2013 study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that of 500 police agencies surveyed in the United States, 96 percent used social media in some capacity and 80 percent reported that social media had helped them solve crimes in their area. The most common use of social media was for criminal investigations, involving the reviewing of social media activity by suspects or creating fake profiles for undercover operations. Nearly 60 percent said they use social media to post surveillance video or images, a common tool to gather information from the public, similar to Jackline’s case.
The most common uses of social media include information gathering for criminal investigations and interacting/sharing information with the public.
The organizations surveyed noted that the most valuable use of social media is its ability to disseminate information and community outreach.
Although the video has garnered lots of attention and engagement, it’s too soon to tell if the campaign made any dent in the investigation, says Cst. Danny Marttini, a media relations officer for PRP.
Social media’s real value comes in its ability for police to spread lots of information to a wide audience.
But depending on the response level the video gets over time, PRP is looking into potentially creating more social media campaigns in the same format, around crimes that impact communities in particularly troubling ways.
PRP believes that there were several witnesses that were in the area that have not yet had the opportunity to speak with investigators. These witnesses, or anyone else with information, are asked to contact the designated tip line or anonymously give information by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or by visiting peelcrimestoppers.ca.
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