Police credit text blast in bank robbery arrests

CHARLESTON, W.Va. The old adage “You can’t outrun the two-way radio” has been modified through technology, with West Virginia State Police crediting a new text alert system for the quick capture of three suspects involved in a bank robbery this week.

“Charleston P.D. had the information with the description, called our (intelligence exchange) unit and within seconds that information went out on a text blast to 207 state troopers,” said Sgt. Mike Baylous.

The first-year text system being utilized by state police offers the flexibility of sending information to a single trooper or every trooper in the state instantly.

“We’ve had it up and running for about three months and we’ve used it a few times,” Baylous said. “It could save someone’s life to put information out there and get it out so quickly.”

Baylous said the text system is an improvement over radio communication, which leaves troopers at the mercy of memory and may not have everything included.

“You have to take in that information, remember it, and if you need more you have to call back,” he said. “But if you have it in a text you can look at it and then look at it again later if you need to.”

The second big advantage is the information goes to all troopers’ cell phones, including the ones who may be off duty.

“They’re on their days off or running around town taking care of errands,” he said. “They get this text blast as well and it gives you that many more eyes and ears out here to find the bad guy.”

The service is particularly useful in the search for criminals soon after a crime has occurred or in the case of a missing person or child.

While only state troopers receive the texts currently, Baylous said the system may expand to include all law enforcement in West Virginia. Currently other agencies can call the unit and use the service to disperse information quickly, but they do not receive the texts.

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