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December 06, 2017 06:02 PM

The Role Of Social Media In Police Work

Sioux Falls

It's a sad story out of southern Nebraska, but it's touched the hearts of people right here in KELOLAND. 

Earlier this week, investigators announced they had found what's believed to be the body of 24-year-old Sydney Loofe of Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Authorities say the discovery was made in rural Clay County, Nebraska. 
One of the ways people here in KELOLAND have been following this case is through social media.

Sydney's family created a Facebook page called 'Finding Sydney Loofe' and it has more than 28,000 followers. 

Another element of this story is the two people of interest in this case. 

The two went on social media to say they are not connected to Sydney Loofe's disappearance. 

The man and woman are considered people of interest by law enforcement, but they have not been charged. 

"By their own statements on social media, we believe that Aubrey Trail and Bailey Boswell were two of the last people to have known to have been with Sydney prior to her disappearance. And that is why they continue to be persons of interest in this investigation," Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister.

This made us wonder if social media and other online resources are helpful to law enforcement who are investigating crimes. So, KELOLAND News decided to ask the Sioux Falls Police Department. 

When it comes to police work, the online communities so many of us have joined can be helpful to law enforcement. 

"It really comes back to the type of case they're investigating and what information they're looking for," Sioux Falls Police Department PIO Sam Clemens said. 

Sam Clemens with the Sioux Falls Police Department says in a case when people are quick to offer up information, officers probably won't look to social media for clues.

But in other instances...

"There's times when people really aren't forthcoming and we're looking for more information to find what happened. In those instances, detectives will use a variety of resources to try to come up with more details on what occurred," Clemens said. 

He says there are times when social media can make the job easier, but it's not the go-to tool.

Instead, face-to-face interaction is what investigators rely on to crack cases. 

"That's first and foremost. We're always going to be talking to family, friends, the victims. If we develop a suspect, we'll talk to the suspects. I'd say the majority of our cases are solved just by having conversations with those people," Clemens said. 

Clemens said social media can be harmful in an investigation as well. For example, if families or friends who are close to a crime post too much information online, it could put evidence in jeopardy. 

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