Our View: High marks to WMPD for launch of DIVRT initiative

While West Memphis may be considered a small incorporated city in comparison to let’s say, Little Rock, Memphis or even some of the much larger metropolitan areas, it’s police department functions are certainly on a level much like law enforcement agencies of much larger size. That is because its leadership, under the direction of Chief Donald Oakes, requires a level of sophistication and professionalism far beyond what was required in years past. With the advanced technology available today, the various methods of communication and the necessary skills required of all those who pin that bad on their shirt, it is mandatory the resources are made available to provide the best available means to keep the law-abiding citizens of this community protected from a criminal element with the technical skills capable of taking full advantages of the same resources. And that philosophy has been a priority of Chief Oakes since he became chief of Crittenden County’s largest municipal police department. The department’s latest initiative is specifically designed to take full advantage of the various resources currently available to the general public as it relates to community connectivity involving social media. As we’re all fully aware, the method of communication today and the various ways people share information such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Skype, Snapchat, Vine, Cinemagram and many others, it is critical that law enforcement keep up with the latest trends. West Memphis Police Capt. Joe Baker said that by using the social media platforms law enforcement can effectively reach a different audience than traditional outlets. Banker said the audience they are trying to reach with this new program called DIVRT (Digital Imaging and Video Recovery Team), many don’t watch traditional news broadcast on television and might not subscribe to local newspapers, but are very active on social media. Because of this, it is critical that law enforcement fully understand and utilize the various methods by which more people are using to communicate. We’re told this new program allows local law enforcement to produce videos that can be placed on Facebook and other media outlets that are designed to involve the public in helping solve cases. Chief Oakes recognizes that for the West Memphis Police Department to be successful in solving crime and protecting the citizens it is critical that public involvement play a vital part. Oakes said, “Often, the police cannot solve these crimes alone. It requires help from the community, and the more information we are able to give to the community the better change we have of getting that help.” One of the main reasons we believe there is such tremendous support and respect for the men and women who “serve and protect” the community of West Memphis in all neighborhoods is due in large part to their interaction. While their job is to enforce the law, which sometimes results in negative situations, these men and women in uniform treat those they interact with while on duty with the utmost respect and consideration regardless of the situation. This is a policy this police chief has demanded from day one and has carried over to this department’s participation in the social media scene today.


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