Deputies say finding missing persons is race against time

Missing person

(Credit: MGN Online)

News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- More than anything, they say it's a race against time.

"I'm terrified for him because I know how the world is. Everybody is not an angel, ya know? But I'm praying that an angel finds him," grandmother Dannett Daggett said.

All eyes are peeled, hoping to catch a glimpse of Demario Mack.

"Demario Maurice Mack. He's going to be a black male. He was reported missing yesterday," said Sgt. Shane McDaniel as he pointed to the missing persons bulletin.

Mack is 23 years old with a mental disability and walked away from his grandmother while they were feeding the homeless yesterday morning.

"He's missed two doses of his medication, and he's been missing now for about 16 hours," his grandmother said sadly.

That's 16 hours too long for this grandmother -- and going on 16 hours of searching for the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

"Time is of the essence in those situations," McDaniel said.

When a person goes missing, it starts with a call to the Sheriff's Office. Once they're notified, the first step is gathering current, accurate information on the person they're trying to find.

McDaniel says it depends on "[deputies] asking questions and finding out what the problem is. Why is this person missing? Is this common? Does he normally go on a walk at 11 at night? Does he have a condition?"

Then, all the compiled information is passed on to the deputies through a broadcast called a BOLO and in daily bulletins.

"That's gonna be the case number, then a brief description of him, 5'8," 170 lbs, black hair, brown eyes," McDaniel said as he pointed to the information on the bulletin.

Officers get an updated bulletin with every shift and all the information, including the incident report and dispatch call, can be pulled up right in their patrol cars, making the information as mobile as the person they're looking for.

McDaniel says in missing person cases, there's no time to waste. He also says there's a common misconception about reporting a missing person.

"You call us right then. There is no 24-hour waiting period, which is very highly publicized on your TV. It's entertainment, it's Hollywood. It's not the case with Richmond County or any other law enforcement agency," he explained. "That broadcast is sent out through the department, throughout Richmond County and the deputies riding in that area are going to immediately start looking."

From the first call to the last street in Augusta, the search will continue until the person is safely home.

"We're not going to stop looking for him," Daggett said.

Deputies and family were out searching for Mack as late as three o'clock Tuesday morning. His grandmother says he is a paranoid schizophrenic, so he might be talking to himself or making hand motions as he's walking around, but she says don't be warned. She says he's not hostile; she just wants him home.

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