OGDEN -- Police in Ogden no longer think about placing photos on milk cartons to find juveniles who are missing or have run away.
Instead, they use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to help determine their whereabouts, said Lt. Scott Conley, head of the Ogden Police Department's Selective Enforcement Division.
"It's a good resource," said Conley, adding that following posts on Facebook is an effective way to track the activities of missing or runaway juveniles.
However, police are sometimes blocked directly from following the posts of those they are trying to locate. When that happens, they enlist help from the teens' friends and family members to access to their Facebook and Twitter pages, Conley said.
Once police get access, they can determine who the juveniles are talking to and possibly pinpoint their location.
"It's a way of looking at their back posts and monitor activity that led up to the stress of the child leaving the home or getting some indication of why they may have run away," Conley said.
Between Jan. 1, 2011, and Jan. 1, 2012, the most recent period for which figures are available, 144 juveniles ages 13 to 17 were reported to the OPD as missing or having run away, Conley said.
Currently, the OPD has 10 open juvenile missing person or runaway cases.
About 98 percent of juveniles reported to the OPD are located or return home voluntarily, Conley said.
The OPD has reviewed its procedures for handling missing juvenile cases but has not made any major changes as a result of the death of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen, of North Ogden.
North Ogden police believe Rasmussen was already dead of a drug overdose at the home of a couple where she was baby-sitting by the time her family notified authorities Sept. 11 that she was missing.
Once juveniles are reported as missing or as runaways, police can immediately begin efforts to locate them, Conley said. There is no requirement that parents wait 48 hours to file a juvenile missing person's report with police, which is the case with missing adults who are over age 18, he said.
Police also can activate the national Amber Alert notification system to locate missing endangered juveniles if the following criteria are met:
* There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
* The law enforcement agency believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
* There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
* The abduction is of a child 17 or younger.
* The child's name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center system.
The OPD assigns school resource officers to investigate reports that a juvenile is missing or has run away because they typically have the best access to information from the individual's friends and acquaintances, Conley said.
Once the OPD receives a report about a juvenile, that information is entered into the NCIC system, a computerized database used by police to retrieve information on criminal record history, fugitives, stolen property and missing persons.
Through NCIC, the OPD within the last year found 11 juveniles in the city who had been reported missing from other jurisdictions.
It's important for police to work with the juvenile's parents and family members to understand factors that may have contributed to the disappearance, Conley said. Factors may include problems at home or school, as well as peer pressure, he said.
Lately, the OPD has been working with Jason Workman, whose 16-year-old daughter Mikayla Workman has been missing from her home since Jan. 20 and is considered a runaway.
Mikayla is Caucasian, 5 feet 10 inches tall, 150 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair. She may have her miniature pinscher dog with her.
Police believe Mikayla may be with friends in the Salt Lake City area, Conley said.
Jason Workman said he's optimistic his efforts and those of the OPD will soon locate his daughter.
"I pray, hunt and hope for her return," he said.
Parents can help their children avoid becoming runaways by becoming involved in their lives and knowing their friends, Conley said.
"It's important to keep the lines of communication open."