I'm writing a light comic cozy, so I don't necessarily need deep deep procedural info, but I do like to have an idea of what's realistic. (Hey, if I deviate from reality, I like to do it by choice.)

Here's the scenario:

I have a scene in which two grown women are expected to be home and are not.  One is a witness in an attempted murder committed a few hours earlier, the other is the ex-girlfriend of a possible suspect. There is a minor sign of a struggle (a broken dish in the kitchen), but no blood or other obvious sign of anything being wrong.

One of the people who discover that these women are not home is the county sheriff (of a nearby county - the earlier crimes were committed in his county).  He is a relative of one of the women.

He discovers evidence that implicates someone else in the previous crime (someone other than the ex-boyfriend).  In the rough draft of the scene he calls in to issue an alert on the new suspect when he first discovers that evidence. Since he's worried about his niece, would he call in an alert on her car?

LATER he discovers evidence (a partial video) that there was an abduction, so he calls in again - but in both cases, I am hazy on exactly what he would be calling in, and what he would be doing.

The video gives him an idea of where the badguys are going - so I assume he'd call his own people to head there.  But would he stay in the empty apartment until the local police arrive?  Or can he follow his gut and run to where he thinks his niece would be?  (He has another witness to leave behind for the cops, but I don't know if he can/should trust her.)  Also, he is old and experienced and been a sheriff for a long time. It's a low crime territory but I can't imagine that he's a panicker.

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You would be surprised, but some of the law enforcement people (including yours truly) would be more upset than an average person, under the situation you are describing. You see, they, (LEOs) really knows what goies on out there and most have seen it all.

If he knew the other county sheriff pretty well, he would call him and ask him to be on the lookout for his niece, and would also notify his dept.

The normal rule of thumb on a missing adult is not to take a report until they have been missing for at least 24 hours. If there was evidence of violence or something of that nature they would probably go ahead and put out a state or region wide BOLO (be on look out) for the missing person.

If I can be more help, let me know.

Thanks, Gary.

While the women disappeared from the other county, there is reason to believe they are going back to the county where he is sheriff. Would it be reasonable to have him put in a BOLO among his own people before he sees the video? If he wanted to, COULD he do it even if it doesn't fit the usual policy? (I.e. could he pull rank?)

Plot-wise, it doesn't make a difference, I just am trying to figure out what he would do. It is a cozy, and there are exaggerated characters, but he is pretty grounded so I want to stay with striking distance of reality.

If he is the Sheriff, he can do what ever he wants in his own county. It is no law, just a rule most go by. BTW ... he would "put out" a BOLO, as out on the radio, not "in".

Okay that helps.

As for putting out a BOLO... He's away from his car, and he's not a patrol officer (but it is a very small county). Would he have a radio on him? Or would he use his cell phone and ask dispatch to put out a BOLO or would he run down to his car?
I'm not asking whether the state will consider him a suspect. I know that. But the state isn't there in the scene. I'm asking what he would do.
I deleted one of my replies to Dan because it contained things that may be spoilers for my book.
My main stumbling block is the fact that these women are discovered missing a few hours after one of them witnessed a murder. I don't think that's enough time for anyone to get worried. You have to account for the fact that the sheriff goes to their house in the first place. Is the visit connected with the witness to the crime? Normally quite a bit of time passes before a missing persons report is filed. The passage of time then makes the urgency and suspicion much greater. And yes, in that situation the sherriff would certainly head for where he thinks his niece is, but he would leave word at the station that that's where he is headed and he would call for assistance.
When they are first discovered missing and their car is gone, that information is called in if there is already reason to suspect foul play. When the video is discovered, the issue of the intruders and their car crops up. How did they get there? And then of course there are all the witness interviews prior to this and following the finding of evidence that they have been abducted. What the video shows enters into this.
As for the dilemma with the other witness he doesn't trust: he'd take her with him. I'm assuming extreme urgency here.
(A bit hard to know what your sequence of events is from the above).
Thank, you. You actually nailed the situation. Some of the info you want is in the post I cut, but the key is that there ISN'T evidence of foul play before the video - just general circumstance and a queasy feeling in the gut.

And goody about taking the other witness with him, because that's what I want him to do. I didn't want to mess around with her having to ask to be brought along. (Although I'd already decided that he might want to bring her so he can ask more questions on the way.)
He's your protagonist, so he needs to take action. So yes, he should go to where he thinks his niece is. He should also alert local authorities about what he knows and ask them to issue a BOLO for the car and for the other suspect if he has a name or a description.
He's not actually the protagonist (the niece is the protag) - he's just the pofv character for the scene. But he does need to take action because he's a guy who would take action. I just needed to get an idea of the constraints.

I have a much better idea of how it will go now thanks to all here. I actually think the scene will end when he issues the BOLO and then we'll cut back to the niece - but even off screen, I wanted a sense of what he would be doing, and how he came to be carting the other witness along when he shows up later.

Thanks again to all.
Since he's at a presumed crime scene, he would probably call his deputies and dispatch them to where he think the women might be, and stay and secure it. An alternative would be for him to call for backup to secure the scene and then he'd be off after his niece. For suspense, I'd have him wait until a deputy arrives to cover the crime scene until it can be properly examined, and then he'd be off to try and rescue his niece.


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