By the Evening Times News Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s not entirely unusual to hear the “Evening Times” referred to as the “Evening Crimes,” but in 2015, it seemed that the paper was living up to its nickname more than usual. Robbery seemed to be the crime du jour, with both Marion and West Memphis police tackling a rash of robberies over the course of the year. Garnering the most headlines, perhaps, was the August armed robbery of the Marion Market Place. On Aug. 28, Marion Police Department were called to investigate an armed robbery at Marion’s Market Place over the weekend. Just after the 10 p.m. closing time, two masked men entered the store as the manager was letting employees out of the front doors. They proceeded to hold the manager up at gunpoint and made their way into the store office. Police say the two suspects, described as black males, made off with an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the scene. Marion Police Lt. Detective Freddy Williams said at the time, “There was some pretty good surveillance footage. Detective (Mark) McDougal and I are working the case. We are asking everyone in the community to help us out.” Eventually, five arrests in total were made in the investigation of the robbery. A series of robberies around the county on Labor Day weekend and the robbery of the Marion Dollar General in November led to even more arrests. Robbery wasn’t the only disturbance in that area of town, though. On Nov. 23, Marion Police responded to a call at the Marion Shell Station/McDonald’s parking lot. Williams reported that a group argument developed. Someone came over from the McDonald’s and started firing a gun in the direction of the gas pumps. A number of vehicles were hit. Although shots were fired, no one was hurt. On Dec. 10, police arrested Denzel Logan, 18, in connection with the incident. Logan was charged with a Terroristic Act, a Class B felony. In May, West Memphis Police Investigators found themselves at the scene of an incident that left a man badly beaten and his dog dead from a gunshot wound. On May 30officers responded to a robbery complaint on Johnson Drive. Upon arrival, officers made contact with the victim, a 68-year-old male, who stated that a black male had forced his way into the victim’s residence and robbed him at gunpoint. The victim stated that he tried to escape from the suspect via the back door, and when he later went back inside his home, he found his dog dead. Officers observed that the dog appeared to have been shot. At the time, West Memphis Police Chief Donald Oakes said, “It is rare that we have an incident of this nature happen in our city. Our detectives are working diligently to positively identify the suspect and apprehend him as quickly and safely as possible.” Just a few weeks ago, the WMPD rolled out a large-scale initiative to curb crime in the community, with the federally-funded program DIVRT. DIVRT (Digital Imaging and Video Recovery Team) is a new outreach program that utilizes all of the resources and community connectivity of social media. The new technologically-minded video recovery and dissemination strategy was recently developed and pilot tested by the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department. The program is an attempt to find a better way to disseminate information about crimes to the public and perhaps more importantly, to ask for the public’s help in solving them. “This program has been very successful in other cities where it has been used,” said Oakes. “And I am very confident that we will see similar results.” The DIVRT strategy uses video footage obtained from the crime scene locations and the surrounding area to compose short “crime commercials,” which are then broadcast on the police department’s YouTube and Facebook sites. The commercials put out information about the crime that is being investigated as well as video and/or still photographs to assist with the identification of suspects in the crime.