WINSTON COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Finding a missing person can sometimes be a difficult task for law enforcement.
When someone goes missing, time is of the essence.
“First of all we want to make sure we can find the person as quickly as possible, and that the person is obviously healthy,” said Winston County Sheriff Jason Pugh. “A lot of things play in depending on what kind of missing persons call we get.”
Sheriff Pugh said his department typically receives child, elderly, or criminal missing person reports.
All three present different challenges.
“In each case, you have to go in a different direction,” the sheriff described. “Obviously if you have a missing child, that child is not probably going to have a cell phone that you can use to try and find that person. A lot of times an older person won’t have something like that, so we really have to utilize all of the resources at our disposal.”
Those resources include social media, Amber and Silver alerts, as well as calling in other law enforcement agencies from neighboring cities and counties.
“We’ve used the Mississippi Crime Lab and their mobile unit in situations before to get help from them to see if there’s anything we might be missing,” said Pugh. “We’ve gone as far as Memphis before in years past to get some resources in for search and rescue.”
Investigators also rely heavily on fire departments and search dogs.
Pugh said once a person is reported missing, the first three hours are the most critical because that’s when they’ll know which resources and departments to bring in.
“The longer they’re missing, the harder it is to find them,” Pugh expressed.
If his deputies can’t find the person, Pugh said they’ll bring in investigators from the Mississippi Highway Patrol to help retrace all of their steps and find another possible solution.
“In a situation where we have a person that’s been missing for several months, we really want to go back over everything, see what could’ve happened that we might’ve missed, and try any avenues that we haven’t tried that we might’ve overlooked,” said Pugh.
The Winston County Sheriff’s Department also relies on media outlets as a resource to help them find a missing person.
If you have any information on a person that is missing, you’re urged to contact your call law enforcement.