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As others see it: Time to expand social media investigations

South Dakota Secretary of Corrections Dennis Kaemingk told the Daily Republic that the DOC's use of social media to locate walkaway inmates and parole absconders is "in its infancy."

It's time to make the effort grow up.

In October, Kent Davidson, 36, left a DOC facility where he was living while serving his parole. He never came back. The DOC issued the usual alerts to law enforcement in an effort to locate him, to no avail.

Then, earlier this month, Davidson's name popped up in the news when the state Attorney General's Office sought the public's help in locating him for questioning regarding a homicide in rural Chamberlain. In short order, Davidson turned up in Sioux Falls and surrendered to authorities after a standoff.

After being told Davidson's name, staffers in the Daily Republic newsroom began researching him on the Internet. They found that his Facebook page was public and contained all manner of details about his life and whereabouts over the previous five months, including his engagement to Mitchell resident Crystal Schulz, whose body was found earlier this month and sparked the manhunt for Davidson.

We should point out that although authorities have called Schulz's death a homicide and have questioned Davidson about it, the crime remains under investigation and he has not been charged with playing any role in the death. ...

We also should mention that we do not blame Kaemingk or the DOC for Davidson's actions, whatever those actions were. Davidson was the one who chose to violate his parole.

We do blame the DOC, though, for not being more advanced in its use of social media to locate walkaways and absconders. If anybody with a computer and a Facebook account could learn so much about Davidson in so little time, there's no reason the DOC shouldn't be doing the same.