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Facebook Helps Police Locate Runaway New Hartford Girl

Thousands can sleep easier now and can say they played a major role in finding a missing 13-year-old New Hartford girl. Amy laPorte went missing for two days after she ran away Friday.
Thousands can sleep easier now and can say they played a major role in finding a missing 13-year-old New Hartford girl. Amy laPorte went missing for two days after she ran away Friday.
The New Hartford Police Department posted her picture on Facebook and within just 24 hours it was viewed by close to 100,000 people here and all across the country.
The New Hartford Police Facebook post was shared by over 3,000 people in less than 24 hours. The message reached people in neighboring towns just browsing on their Facebook feeds.
"I saw it on my Facebook, I was really concerned,” says Jessica Vriesema of West Winfield.
"I was scrolling on my newsfeed and I saw something about some girl, she was 13 right? Yeah, she was found or something, I thought it was really cool,” said Grant Lambert from Whitesboro.
These are just two of the hundreds of thousands who saw the New Hartford Police Facebook post about the missing 13-year old girl, Amy laPorte. New Hartford Police say without the community interaction on Facebook she may not have turned herself in.
"She told us that the pressure from everyone knowing that she was missing was one of the reasons she returned,” said Officer Mike Reilly of the New Hartford Police Department.
"Social media is a big help for us helps us to locate people all the time, we use it for amber alerts and in this case it helped us get the message out that we were looking for this young lady,” says Investigator Peter Colburn of the New Hartford Police Department.
If you scroll through the comments and shares on the Facebook post you can see people from around the country were helping to find Amy.
"I was really amazed at the numbers and if you go on and look I can remember Pittsburgh, New Hampshire, Missouri, Alabama, Florida, are all where people said they shared it and a lot of Upstate New York shared it,” said Officer Reilly.
The post was up less than 48 hours before police located laPorte at a friend’s house around 8 pm Sunday night. Central New Yorkers say they're starting to see Facebook used more often in situations similar to this one.
"I’ve known a lot of people who, their family members have gone missing and they've shared it on Facebook and the word has gotten spread around the country and people actually do find out, it's amazing how fast people find things out on the internet,” said Vriesema.
"My dog just ran away for a few hours the other night and I used Facebook to potentially help spread the word and people came out and helped look for him,” says Stephen Dillon from Ilion.
Others say Facebook would be the first took they'd use to if they needed to locate a loved one.
"I’d post it on Facebook, I’d ask people everywhere I’d say hey you know so and so is missing can you help me find them, I think that's what social media is designed for,” said Lambert.
The New Hartford Police Department updates its Facebook page almost every day and encourages people around the community to stay alert and involved through social media.

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