JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- About nine hours passed from the time Cherish Perrywinkle was reported missing from the Walmart on Lem Turner Road until the time registered sex offender Donald Smith was in custody.
Sheriff John Rutherford said that was the result of good police work. "There was some phenomenal police work in this case. Think about identifying an unknown suspect within a couple of hours. There was some brilliant work done in this case," he said.
But after reviewing a timeline of events, the sheriff says JSO did drop the ball in one area, and that's when it came to notifying you about what happened.
[Special coverage: JSO releases timeline of search for Cherish
He said, "They didn't do proper notification of the PIO, and they didn't do proper notification of staff up their chain of command."
The PIO is the public information officer, who alerts the media when bad things happen, so we can get that information out to the public quickly.
In this case, the media was not told right away there was a possible abduction and that investigators suspected foul play from the get-go.
Rutherford said, "This isn't a policy problem, this is a performance problem. Somebody didn't follow protocol."
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement did issue an Amber Alert for Cherish early Saturday morning. Rutherford says that alert takes time. "On Amber Alerts, you can't put out what you suspect. You have to put out what you know."
But he says JSO could have been a little more pro-active in getting Cherish's information out there.
Would it have made a difference? Maybe not. But it might the next time a tragedy like this occurs.
[Special coverage: Remembering Cherish