Importance of community and social media for law enforcement

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La Crosse, Wis. (WXOW) – On Thursday, Jayme Closs was found alive in northern Wisconsin after her abduction in October. That incident also included the murder of both her parents.

A woman recognized Jayme while walking her dog before bringing her to a neighbor’s home to call 911. Barron County law enforcement officials say efforts to make the situation public contributed to her safety.

Whether it was seeing her face on TV, billboards or signs on semi-trucks traveling the nation the exposure of her situation made it possible for residents in the Town of Gordon to recognize her. A town located miles away from where she was last seen.

Police believe Jayme’s abduction took place on October 15, missing nearly three months.

“It’s amazing the will of that 13-year-old girl to survive and escape,” Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald explains.

Law enforcement worked tirelessly getting information out to the public to help find Jayme. Officials say the community involvement made a difference. 

“That comes from the hope and the prayers in this community and what everybody did. I think what’s very interesting is she was recognized immediately by both the female walking the dog and the people in the house,” Sheriff Fitzgerald discloses.

Something Sheriff Fitzgerald attributes to making the abduction as public as possible. Police in La Crosse see the community as part of the department. They use the residents they serve as a resource.

“It’s a community collaboration and networking is so important because anybody could have a big piece of the puzzle that helps us bring somebody home safe,” Lieutenant with the La Crosse Police Department Avrie Schott describes.

The La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department utilizes social media to quickly network and connect with residents.

“We can see in social media within a matter of minutes how fast it’s getting out to the public,” Jeff Wolf, La Crosse County Sheriff, elaborates.

“It is very important to law enforcement, we use it daily to reach out to people for assistance.”

You don’t need to wait for law enforcement to reach out though. Contacting the police at any stage of an investigation can provide vital information to keep the public safe.

“If you still find something that you all of a sudden see that might be important, contact us and we will work with you to find out where that piece of the puzzle may or may not fit,” Lieutenant Schott finishes. 

Whether you prefer to speak over the phone or use social media to contact law enforcement, any involvement is welcomed.

If people would rather remain anonymous they can submit a tip online at La Crosse Crime Stoppers.

La Farge police are currently looking for Sierra Hohneke, a missing teenager not seen since January 6. Call your local law enforcement or the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office with any information.

Peter Lenz

Peter Lenz

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