Missing persons clearinghouse introduced at the State Senate

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Senate Bill 27 was introduced to the South Dakota Senate that would establish a missing persons clearing house across the state.

Pennington County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue vehicle used to search for missing people.

If passed, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation would maintain a website for anyone to access with information on missing people and further develop law enforcement training procedures.

"It gives a centralized clearinghouse for law enforcement, so that's a good thing, but it also is, like enabling legislation that allows law enforcement, in this case the Division of Criminal Investigation, to share that information with the public," said Kevin Thom, Pennington County Sheriff.

Thom thinks that some of the information included in this clearinghouse would be the basic description of the person-- name, physical description, where they were last seen, who they were with, and if there is foul play suspected.

"If somebody goes missing, you can use it immediately at the time they go missing and also has a database, so you can look back into the database and make sure that you're tracking all of the information of all of the people that are reported missing so that they don't fall through the cracks in the system," said Thom.

The system would be networked into NCIC -- the National Crime Information Center-- to help share the information.

"I think it augments what we are doing already," said Thom. "It just helps collate it and keep it in one place, so I think it will strengthen the process. but it's not new in terms of putting out information on missing people, but it will, again, centralize it and hopefully enhance the dissemination of it."

Thom says the setup of the system will dictate some of the logistical details-- for example, like how much information is given to the public.

See more information2020 South Dakota Legislature Senate Bill 27