HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Law enforcement sees posts for missing persons being shared and viewed thousands of times. Getting information out quickly is critical, and social media brings it to your fingertips instantly.
On Wednesday, July 23, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office was notified of a missing teenager. Haley Brook Clark was last seen the night before, and the sheriff's office immediately took to social media. It's a tool they credit for locating the 16-year-old so quickly.
"Social media absolutely had an impact. The information on the post was shared 745 times, it was viewed by more than 35,000 people," explained Emily Flax with the BCSO.
The reach through social media is fast and vast.
"When we want to get information out quickly, we utilize social media," said Flax.
It also allows the community to connect to law enforcement.
"The tip regarding [Haley Clark's] location came in through a private message. She saw the information on Facebook and passed the tip along to detectives," said Flax.
In less than 24 hours, the 16 year old was found.
Earlier in the week, a similar situation occurred in Georgetown when 14 year old Charlotte Ann Wills disappeared. A woman walking the beach saw the young teen alone at the beach in Garden City. When she got home that evening, she began searching on social media and found out Charlotte was missing.
The concerned citizen contacted the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office and returned back to the beach to help deputies find Charlotte Wells.
"That person would not have been located so quickly if that person in Garden City had not seen it on social media and known the juvenile was missing," said Sgt. Jeff Benton with the Horry County Sheriff's Office
The HCSO has an active social media campaign, considering its page one for the community. However, it also helps the sheriff's office get emergency information out quickly to the masses.
"The dissemination of information is within seconds and goes to thousands," said Sgt. Benton.