The Union Recorder

March 11, 2013

BCSO alerts spread the word

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Thursday night a non-custodial mother forcefully took her 3-year-old child from a Kings Road residence. 

The female left with her young daughter after a minor domestic dispute.

“This wasn’t technically an abduction,” Capt. Brad King of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s office said. “There was no immediate cause to believe the child was in danger.”

The BCSO initiated its Intelligence Led Policing (ILP) protocol to locate the missing girl around 8 a.m Friday. Descriptions and photos went to the Georgia Crime Information Center, U.S. Marshals, Fugitive Squad and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Staff sent mass emails to the ILP community group and sheriff’s personnel. Photos and vital descriptions posted to the BCSO Facebook page really circulated.

Within one hour the social media status reached 5,000. At the two-hour mark the total grew to 14,000 people.

King said the mother and child were at the sheriff’s office by 10:45 a.m.

“That is phenomenal. It does exactly what we wanted it to do with the Intelligence Led Policing, which is putting our citizens in the game,” King said.

The information sharing program, started one year ago, runs an online neighborhood watch. People sign up for free updates on the BCSO website.

Facebook friends and shares make a gigantic impact too. 

Crime, scams and even road closure messages transfer quickly and efficiently throughout the ever-expanding community base. Messages and posts go up when trends or actionable information comes forth.

King said the department’s job is to educate, protect and be accessible. An open door entices regular folks to join the proactive conversation.

“Every avenue we can take to get information from the community is better for us because lets face it we live and die with information. We must have community input and support to truly function,” King said. “We are your sheriff’s office. It’s not ours. We are here to serve the community.”

Administrative Capt. Lynnette LaRocque said the law enforcement center sends online updates and emails almost daily. 

Face-to-face talks and phone calls are obsolete. LaRocque said the ILP initiative is cost effective as long as people want it. Today’s online reach proves they do.

“Any way we can increase communication and sharing of information that means there are a lot more eyes looking,” LaRocque said. “It multiplies our department three times.”

Detective secretary Deanna Lingold updates the ILP reports. As of 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, she said the 3-year-old BOLO reached 21,000 on Facebook.

King said word of mouth doesn’t travel fast enough. A few years ago it would have taken all media outlets and an entire department three days to touch that many.

“We believe this is one of our tickets to be able to do more with less, because [Friday] we had 5,000 deputies looking for that girl in one hour,” he said.

Commenting on social media posts, emailing or text messages are the new normal.

“It’s just a quicker way to get out there,” Lingold said.

Equipping officers with smart phones was a small cost. Otherwise, the BCSO utilizes existing technology.

Officers must pass a short Bureau of Justice Assistance certified course to learn intelligence passing guidelines to receive law enforcement sensitive messages that aide cohesiveness.

BCSO efficiency directly correlates with the growing information network. 

From top to bottom the Sheriff’s office staff get daily emails detailing all 911 calls and other matters sparking conversation. 

“It keeps the staff informed of everything that happens. Our purpose was making sure that our newest deputy on the road had the same information that I had and vice versa,” King said. “That’s probably been the most prominent asset so far. Emails give our deputies a sense of purpose.”

In the future the sheriff’s office wants to plug in surrounding agencies allowing sharing across a streamlined network. The technology-based buddy system has limitless potential.

LaRocque mentioned a TipSoft smartphone application allowing county residents to text tips. Implementing more tech programs carries a stiff price tag, but for now ILP works.

King said growing the email members up to the Facebook friend total is important. Different cases go out to the ILP list serve only.

Visit www.baldwinsheriff.com to sign up for email alerts and friend Baldwin Sheriff on Facebook.

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