Prosecutor turns to social media to aid in finding felons

HURON – Posting the mug shots of six individuals wanted for probation violations on social media has been so successful in just the first few days that the photos of 18 more will appear online by the end of the week.
Beadle County’s “Most Wanted” is now part of the State’s Attorney’s Facebook page after local authorities decided to be more aggressive in finding felons who have outstanding warrants.
“We want to get the message out there,” State’s Attorney Mike Moore said, “that not only do we want these people picked up, but if you get sentenced to probation you’ve gotten a break.”
Of the six individuals whose photos were posted last week, two are in custody and the out of state locations of two others are now known by authorities, he said. Once the paperwork has been prepared and warrants have been issued, local police in those jurisdictions will be notified and asked to arrest them.
The decision to call on the public’s help through Facebook came after meetings involving the state’s attorney’s office, sheriff’s office, police department and probation department.
Although there are literally thousands of outstanding warrants for people just in Beadle County, most involving misdemeanors, most aren’t located until they are cited for something else, such as a driving offense, Moore said.
Individuals who have been convicted of a felony for low-level crimes such as drugs are often spared prison through a judge’s order that they serve time on probation.
Warrants are issued when they fail to appear for a court date or a meeting with their probation officer, thereby violating terms of their release.
“They took off, they’re not checking in with their court service officer, they’re not following what the judge ordered them to do,” Moore said.
“If we allow people to abscond from probation without any consequence, without trying to look for them – and the reality is, no one is actively looking for these individuals – the only way we ever get them is if they get picked up for something else,” he said.
“So this way now we’re actively looking for them,” Moore said.
Those whose mug shots will be posted online will be people who have been convicted of felonies.
It sends a bad message when people are allowed to violate terms of their probation without consequences, he said. The next person may be less likely to get probation if the judge sees that others on probation aren’t following the rules, he said.
“I just think we try to treat everybody fairly, and if you get a sentence and you are required to do things we’re going to make sure you do it,” Moore said.
Is someone arrested for violating probation likely to get probation again?
It depends on the circumstances, Moore said.
“Some of them might get probation again, or get another chance, and some of them will probably go to the penitentiary,” he said.
Online posting of mug shots is already proving to be successful.
“These types of cases, we just need some help,” he said. “Who better to help us than the public?”

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