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Terrified and Lost: New technology allows Stark County Sheriff to locate missing persons with a text

Domestic violence victims and deputies helped, too
Crime fighting pinpoint tech is saving lives in Stark County
Posted at 1:02 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 18:33:52-05

STARK COUNTY, Ohio — Imagine if your child went missing. How would police find them?

The Stark County Sheriff’s Department is using pinpoint location technology that they say has helped save lives.

Terrifying 911 call

“She’s in a car with some boy..I don’t know where,” said a frantic Stark County mother during a recent 911 call. “I’m just flipping out right now."

The mother’s 13-year-old daughter and her daughter’s friend were missing in the middle of the night.

“I opened up the door to check on her, and I went in there and that’s when I found the pillows underneath the blanket and she was gone,” said the mom.

The girls snuck out of the house and jumped into a car driven by an older teenager. The 911 operator was able to talk to the daughter on her phone after the mom arranged a 3-way call.

“Do you know where you are?” asked the operator.

“No!” said the girl as she cried. “I’m in a car.”

“Who’s driving?” asked the operator.

“I don’t know,” said the teen.

Company allows text link to pinpoint location

Stark County has location software from a company called Carbyne. It allows emergency crews to find a phone that has location services turned on, all through a text.

“What I’m going to do is send a link to your text messages, and I need you to click on that link,” said the operator.

Carbyne told us once a person hits that link the software utilizes a number of different triangulation data points to hone in on where that person is. “Now we can go within 3 feet of that device, and it’s a constant…we can follow that device every 3 to 5 seconds,” said Stark County Sheriff’s Office Communications Supervisor Terry Curry.

Founder of company was in his own emergency

“Unfortunately, this problem was my problem when I tried to call emergency services,” said Carbyne CEO Amir Elinchai. He said he came up with the idea for the company after he was robbed in Israel and didn’t know exactly where he was. “I was on the beach so it was very hard to communicate the location of the place.”

The company now serves more than 150 government agencies, helping find people and showing police the scene of an accident or crime. “When you are calling to Stark County, Ohio, they have the ability to start the real-time video call with you,” said Elinchai.

Video chat used in Stark County domestic violence cases

In fact, the sheriff’s department has used the video option for domestic violence calls, including one recently where a man had a gun and a knife.

“We were able to see the entire room. How the room door was barricaded, where the suspect was standing,” said Stark County Sheriff George Maier. “Fortunately, nobody got killed that day. We were able to walk out of that peacefully without anybody being harmed.”

Similarly, the 13-year-old and her friend were found. Officers pulled over the car in question and got the girls. The driver sped away from the scene, but the children were safe.

“Here’s a story we can tell that we could be easily telling a little bit different story today,” said Sheriff Maier.

Curry told us the department is also using Carbyne to locate K-9 officers who are out of their cars searching in big fields or wooded areas.

There are other companies offering similar location services for law enforcement as well.

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