Search Protocol - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Search Protocol

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The Texas Department of Public Safety had over 3,000 active cases of missing persons. When people go missing alerts are issued, only if certain criteria is met. But, what about people over the age of 18 who don't meet the criteria? "You know we'll look at phone numbers maybe we can try to reach them, email addresses, social sites, Facebook and what not, see if they're on Facebook anywhere. We'll reach out to there friends and see when was the last time someone can actually tell us when they were located or spoken to," said Deputy Rutledge, Criminal Investigator for the Wichita County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Rutledge said once a report is made an investigation begins, which includes checking jails and background checks, most people he said leave a paper trail. "A lot of people choose to just disappear. You know, we've worked cases in the past where people just decide they didn't like this life or like this lifestyle and they just walked away from it," said Rutledge.

Details are key when reporting a missing persons case. This helps police narrow down locations where the missing person may be, so a search can begin. "If we believe there needs to be a search we'll start as immediately as possible, between 24 to 48 hours. And like I said if we believe someone is hurt we want to go find them as quick as we can. But we're gonna have to have the evidence or something leading us to believe that that person's been in a particular location and they've been hurt," said Rutledge.

In a time when people often keep to themselves, neighbors can be the first to notice when something's not right. Especially when familiar faces seem to vanish into thin air. "You need to know your neighbors. You need to know, not being nosy or anything, but it's always good to know, especially if they're elderly or if they travel a lot. You should know your neighbors and know what they do. And know what kind of cars kind of come and go. And what hours they keep and whatnot," said Rutledge. Call the Police non-emergency line if you suspect foul play. It is the job of the police to investigate even if nothing turns up. These reports can be made anonymously.

D.P.S. Officials and the Texas Missing Person Clearinghouse is notified of all missing person cases. However, they only assist when alerts are issued. Otherwise, cases are handled by local law enforcement.

Jenyne Donaldson, Newschannel Six.