NORTH PORT, Fla. -- A North Port mother has turned to Facebook to show her gratitude for helping find her 9-year-old son, it’s the same social media tool that helped find him.
Jennifer Hastings writes on the North Port Police Department’s Facebook page: “Thank you so much to everyone who shared this and everyone who helped look for him!!! He has been found safe and is home now where he belongs! God is good! Thank you to the North Port Police Department for acting so quickly and helping my son come home to me!!! You guys are the best!!!”
Police say Cody Phillips disappeared from his home Monday evening.
“Every section of North Port was covered, people looking,” says Rob Behmer, helped find Cody.
North Port police quickly turned to Facebook just before 8 p.m. when it posted Cody’s photo and description of his clothes.
UPDATE: The little boy has been located now back home with Mom! It appears members of Awaken Church saw post and went looking. Amazing!— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) November 15, 2016
Amy Behmer says, “It’s been shared 12-hundred times in 30 minutes.”
Amy and Rob Beymer know Cody and his family from church. The couple and members from Awaken Church used social media to help police find Cody by creating a virtual map.
Rob says, “Our church is not afraid to jump in and help people.”
North Port police’s Facebook followers shared their search area and there were dozens in North Port and beyond including Venice, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda.
“Kudos to North Port Police Department to be active on social media and be quick to get it out there,” says Rob.
“We’re being as transparent as possible, not sitting on it, putting it out there and asking the community to partner with us — it’s working,” says Josh Taylor, spokesperson with the North Port Police Department.
Cody and his family had just moved so the Beymers loaded the family in the car and headed toward his neighborhood. But within minutes Amy spotted Cody on Price Boulevard more than 6 miles from home.
Rob says, “Amy called out, 'Cody is that you?' "
Cody wasn’t talking -- so Rob and he walked together until police arrived.
“I told him how much his family loved him, his church loved him and how happy we are to find him,” says Rob.
In less than an hour of the Facebook posting, Cody was reunited with his family.
Amy says, “I don’t think it would have been that fast if FB had not been involved."
This is the second time this year a missing person in North Port has been found with the help of social media. Police say it has solved about two dozen cases with the community’s help by using Facebook and Twitter. The department won a national award this year for its use of social media as a crime-fighting tool.