Deputies using social media to track down missing persons

Deputies using social media to track down missing persons

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Sergeant Derek Boyd and his deputies in the Charleston County Major Crimes Division always have something to look into or someone to look out for. Stacks of paperwork, transcribed interviews and maps clutter their desks, the echo of a telephone ring is buzzing off their walls.

These are the deputies who respond to Charleston County's missing persons calls and make them a priority until someone is found.

"You might work 12 to 15, 16 hour days the first couple of days trying to track," said Boyd. "You're pretty much working non- stop."

The sergeant says his office gets two to three calls reporting missing persons a week. Even in an office dominated by other major crimes, these calls shoot to the top of the list.

"We get a call and we start to investigate," said Boyd. "When the deputy first gets there they'll determine if there's anything wrong with the person or if they take medication. They will look for any signs of foul play or if they've been abducted. In the first 10 or 15 minutes you'll know immediately if it's an abduction."

Word of abductions are sent out to the media within the hour said Boyd. Runaway cases are given time to see if the child or teen comes home.

However, in both instances, deputies find themselves making use of social networks to track down the missing.

"When it comes to juveniles or younger adults that's one of the first places we'll look is social media," said Boyd.

Facebook, twitter and foursquare have found a home next to ATV's, search dogs and rescue divers to located missing persons.

"That's something big about the social media, said Boyd. "We'll see if there's anything posted on there or anything tweeted on there so we can follow up. It will generally point us in a certain direction."

The direction is crucial when trying to locate a missing person as fast as possible.

According to the National Crime Information Center, NCIC, there are 727 missing persons in South Carolina. 84 of those cases are in the Tri-County area.

Since those numbers include runaways and people who have deliberately taken off, the database stresses not all of the cases in the state are abductions.

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