To help find a missing 11-year-old boy overnight, Sioux Falls police sent out thousands of electronic messages to aid in their search.
The boy was found safe Wednesday morning, just over an hour after thousands of messages were sent. Sioux Falls Police said the Nixle.com alert system has been used to bring three children home this summer.
A missing child is a parent's worst nightmare. It's something Dorah Waugh hasn't experienced. But if something were to happen, Sioux Falls police will use Nixle.com to get the word out fast through emails and text messages.
"Anytime we have missing people we are looking for, Nixle is always used," Sioux Falls Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said. "[We are] trying to get that message out there as fast as we can to anybody who may have information."
In the most recent case, police sent out 1,100 emails and 900 text messages. The program can even pin point specific neighborhoods involved in the search area.
Sioux Falls Police began using the program in 2009 and have sent out 120 separate notifications. Clemens says the department does not track how effective Nixle is, but adds it is a valuable tool for finding children.
"We are trying to push out information to as many people in as many different ways we possibly can. And if it works, great," Clemens said. "We don't care which source works as long as it does and we are getting information, especially when it comes to finding kids."
And while she hopes it's never used to find her children, Waugh says the notifications are worth receiving.
"Say one of my friend's children or anybody's child went missing, if I could help or look or maybe see them and send back a reply, I would feel pretty good about it," Waugh said.
Clemens also said the Nixle website is used when a missing child is not considered abducted, like an Amber Alert.
To sign up for Nixle alerts, click here.