The importance of ‘pings’ to South Dakota law enforcement

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Tracing cell phone pings helped South Dakota law enforcement find the victim in Sunday’s abduction that started in Brookings and ended in Sioux Falls. Cell phone data is an important tool of technology in finding people who are in danger.

Metro Communications credits the Brookings 911 Center for tracing cell phone tower data, helping law enforcement find the victim from Sunday’s abduction in Sioux Falls.

“They had pieces of information and they were able to relay that information directly to us and we were able to get it to our responders both in the county and the city and that ultimately led to the successful recovery of the victim,” Metro Communications Deputy Director Aimee Chase said.

Cell phone pings can offer important clues for law enforcement looking for people who may be in danger.

“Basically, what’s happening is they’re triangulating that device to the nearest cell phone tower and then the company is able to determine roughly the location of where that device has been used,” Metro Communications Director Scott McMahon said.

Law enforcement agencies have to file paperwork with cell phone carriers in order to get permission to trace the data. The common denominator is a threat to life, or safety.

“It’s usually a fax or a phone call to the cell phone provider and then usually within minutes, we can get the information of where that device was last used,” McMahon said.

Tracing cell phones is very common for emergency centers. Each time someone phones 911, their device provides dispatchers information about where the call is coming from.

“As long as we can locate you, that’s generally the most important piece,” McMahon said.

That location information can be crucial if someone is lost, or is unable to talk because of being held against their will.

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