Winston County officials detail their process of finding a missing person
Missing person searches often make headlines, both nationally and locally
WINSTON COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- Missing person searches often make headlines, both nationally and locally. When law enforcement agencies begin a search for someone, it often involves other agencies, special units, and very specific techniques. When a loved one goes missing, one of the first calls families make is to law enforcement; making that call as soon as possible is critical.
“The first 24 to 48 hours is integral as time goes on you know a victim or lost person/subject can move further and further away greatly increasing our search radius,” said deputy Scott Kohrs an investigator for Winston County Sheriff’s Department.
Kohrs said five of the last eight missing person investigations he’s led have had a happy ending. After the sheriff’s office identifies that the missing person search isn’t a crime scene; they call in the pros to strategize the best ways of finding the person in wooded areas.
“We collect all the data that they have given us and we have profiling software that we use. We use statistical data to come up with a profile for likely locations where the subject would be located,” said deputy fire chief Jeff Franks.
Franks said after they get a description of the missing person, they send out teams of volunteer firefighters to find clues in targeted areas.
“We search until conditions dictate that we don’t search so maybe if it’s nighttime and it’s too dangerous to search because of terrane we’ll take a break for the night. We have different shifts that work the different operational periods so we try to keep our members fresh,” said Franks.
Before advanced technology like drones, agencies depended on their own eyes and ears; or they would call in a team with specially-trained canines.
” A young child that wonders off will need a search dog. Unfortunately, if it’s a search that’s been over time we’ll have to call in canine dogs,” said Kohrs.
When a person is found. Kohrs said he uses the drone to direct agencies to their exact location.
“A lot of times once I find something I actually use the drone and put it into a hover over the spot and turn on the searchlights so searchers can see where it’s at and go directly to it to interrogate,” said Kohrs.
Kohrs and Franks said that over the last several years their strategies to find missing people have been about 85% effective.