PEARL RIVER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Leaders at the Pearl River County Sheriff's Department say they learned just how helpful Facebook could be during a recent manhunt for two Tennessee fugitives. They said the ability to communicate with the public, in real time, proved to be invaluable to the department.
"According to Facebook statistics, we reached over 28,000 people during this incident, via Facebook," said Donnie Saucier.
Saucier is Enforcement Operations Commander for the Sheriff's Department. He said Facebook allowed him to give followers updates from the field as he and deputies searched for the suspects.
"There were a lot of posts between citizens in reference to their safety concerns. So we used the Facebook page to ensure them they were safe. One of the posts that we did was saying the suspects had not been caught, the search was continuing, however there was an extremely large presence of law enforcement in the community."
Saucier said the feedback from citizens was helpful, too. At least one post came from someone who thought they spotted the suspects.
"Almost immediately, we experienced the benefits of it," said Chief Deputy Shane Tucker.
Sheriff's officials say Facebook has been useful in many ways.
"We've used it in missing persons cases. We've used it to alert the public on potential scammers that are in the area," said Saucier.
Although social media is often tagged for fueling rumors, Sheriff's officials believe their page helps quash rumors and build trust with their Facebook friends.