MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities police department is crediting a phone message with helping them find a missing girl.

The call came in from a frantic mom just a little after 11 a.m. on Sunday, her 11-year-old daughter was missing in Prior Lake. The girl is considered a vulnerable child, so for the first time, Prior Lake Police made the decision to issue a CodeRED Alert.

The technology sends a text, call, or email to those that have signed up for the service. Police are able to only send the alert to certain neighborhoods if need be.

“This is very fast. It’s considered a high-speed notification system,” said Sgt. John Stanger from the Prior Lake Police Department.

Within minutes, teams of neighbors joined the search. Two hours after the girl went missing she ran into a man in a nearby neighborhood. That man spotted the girl just minutes before he checked the CodeRED message. After realizing who he’d seen, he called police, and that call helped authorities have a better idea of just how far the girl was from home: about a mile and a half away.

Eventually, a firefighter out searching found her and brought her back home.

“There’s so much potential with this technology,” Stanger said. “The public’s assistance in that can be critical, and it’s a good thing for us.”

Prior Lake has plans to use CodeRED again for things like severe weather, construction delays and detours.

Each county or town that signs up for CodeRED pays a subscription fee, but for those who sign up for the alerts it is free. More than 30 agencies across Minnesota are using the technology right now, so it’s best to check with where you live to see.

Liz Collin

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