Grand Island, NE-- The Hall County Sheriff's Office used Facebook and Twitter in hopes of finding two teen runaways. Those teens are home now, and although social media was not what found the teens, it gave the Sheriff over 60,000 other pairs of eyes.
The Hall County Sheriff's Office has used Facebook for over two years and Twitter for only a week.
The Sheriff said with the usage of social media in the public, it was only a matter of time before it became part of law enforcement.
"It's the way it's going to go, I don't know that there's a choice. Society has evolved to this. We need to follow what society's doing in order to keep them as safe as we can," said Hall County Sheriff Jerry Watson.
Sheriff Watson went on to say, "For me as a public official in charge of keeping people safe, it just seems like a natural path to take to establish that connection to the public."
Sheriff Jerry Watson spent last week at an International Social Media in Law Enforcement conference in Omaha to better learn how to implement it.
"We were looking at different things that people were doing across the world and how they were reaching out and the different methodologies. It was just kind of a learning experience all in that realm," he said of the SMILE Conference.
Sheriff Watson said that even though the use of social media is still in its infant stage, it has already been used to solve several investigations.
He said, "We had the robbery at the Alda Exchange out at the Git-N-Split and we posted pictures on Facebook of that incident from their surveillance and we got a lot of tips and some good information from that which helped in that resolution as well."
Shortly after that was a kidnapping of two gibbons in Doniphan that got right out to the public for help.
"It's just amazing to me to see how many shares and how many views it had had over just a short period of time," said Sheriff Watson.
The Sheriff says this new tool grows his department to even larger numbers.
"I got cops on every corner, you know, they know what's going on, they know what we're looking for," he said.
To this point, the department reaches almost 4,000 people on Facebook and over 150 Twitter followers. They hope the numbers continue to increase so they can reach more and more members of the public.
Click the links below to visit the Sheriff's Department's Facebook and Twitter.