ROLLA, Mo.– Police departments are using social media to aid in searches for missing person cases.
When scrolling through social media, you might come across a missing person’s report on your feed.
“Because of social media, we see a lot more of what is going on in our community,” Detective Sergeant at Rolla Police Department Derrick Dillon said.
Law enforcement agencies want to get the word as quickly as possible, but posting on social media depends on a few things.
Police departments look at age, medical concerns, case facts, circumstances, and immediacy before posting.
It also depends on whether or not the family agrees to let the agency post a picture of their loved one.
“When we take a missing person report, the form that they will fill out will actually document on there whether or not it’s ok to post their picture,” Dillon said. “A lot of the family members, they do not have an issue with us posting to social media. As a matter of fact, they will actually use social media, even if we don’t, to help in order to try to find their loved ones,” says Dillon.
Most posts are on a case-by-case basis. Sergeant Dillon says that, more often than not, the Rolla Police Department benefits from using social media even if it makes their job difficult sometimes.
One benefit is getting tips about cases, which can help return loved ones home.
“Even if we don’t post, we can probably plan on someone posting for a particular person,” Dillon said.
Without looking at specific case numbers, Dillon believes there has been an increase in missing persons over the last year and a half.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean we have a problem in a certain area,” Dillon said. “It just means the information is more available. We don’t know how many [of these missing persons] are immediately found or returned safely.”