Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 5, 2014

Enforcing technology

State Police in the two Virginias debut apps for general public

by JAMIE NULL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — By JAMIE NULL

Bluefield Daily Telegraph



BLUEFIELD — Most people think apps are a fun way to pass the time or a cool utility that turns your phone into a flashlight. But technology is more than Angry Birds. Both the West Virginia State Police and the Virginia State Police have created apps for the general public.

First Sergeant Michael Baylous with the West Virginia State Police said the app debuted on Dec. 23, 2013.

“This is a free app designed to enhance communication between the West Virginia State Police and the public. The app allows users to access the West Virginia State Police Facebook, Twitter, website, Sex Offender Registry, Detachment information, and numerous other features. With this app, the West Virginia State Police also has the ability to send out blast messages related to Amber/Silver Alerts and major criminal incidents,” Baylous said in a press release.

However, he cautioned that the app does not replace calling 911.

“Don’t let it replace picking up the phone and calling,” he said.

Baylous said the app can also be downloaded by out-of-state residents who want to keep up with news and happenings around the state.

The new app is designed to provide better communication between the general public and law enforcement.

“Like with any business, if you don’t change you are doomed to failure,” Baylous said.

In Virginia, the State Police released the app See Something Send Something in  December. According to the press release, the app enables the public to report suspicious, criminal activity to be captured as a photo or written note and sent to the Virginia State Police.

The photo goes to the State Police for review and analysis. If it is relevant to a case, it is forward to the investing law enforcement agency. But if the tip is unfounded, it is deleted from the system.

“The fundamentals of investigating and solving a crime haven’t changed,” said Major Rick A. Jenkins, Deputy Director of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “ But, keeping the public engaged with us through the crime solving, tip-sharing process has evolved and now so have we. The app is simply the 21st century version of the traditional telephone crime tip line or hotline.”

 For more information, visit www.vsp.virginia.gov. The West Virginia State Police free smart phone application can be found at the iStore for Apple products and the Google Play Store for Android.