MONTROSE – On the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 25 Montrose police officers, were alerted about a possibly missing teenager. The teen was found safe the next morning, but in the initial hours of their investigation, the department turned to its newest information-generating tool – Facebook.
According to Montrose Police Commander Keith Caddy, investigators began posting about the missing teen that night, right after the report was filed. Twelve hours later, the department's Facebook page had generated about 7,440 hits in response to the missing teen posting.
It was the first time the department had used Facebook in a local missing persons investigation, but it certainly won’t be the last. "From first time if was reported to when the child was found, it was generating interest," Caddy said.
Police departments across the country are now employing sites like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word as they search for missing persons; families and friends often create Facebook pages, as well, to help.
Montrose is now no exception. Thanks to the ease of sharing information via retweets, reblogs and "likes," the identities and descriptions of missing persons can now reach vast numbers of users over a wide geographical area.
"I'm really excited we got this started and launched," said Caddy, adding that the Sept. 25 effort was "very successful" because it prompted a very "significant" number of locals to share information with one another, and reached out to the younger generation of Montrose residents for access to their social networks.
Recent studies nationwide suggest the combination of social media with the national AMBER Alert program is a exponentially effective. Colorado’s AMBER Alert Program has its own Facebook page that is self-described as "a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement, media, transportation and others to send bulletins about child-abduction cases."
For more information, search Montrose Police Department on Facebook and hit “like,” and visit www.amberalert.gov.