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Troopers reveal police app for public

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Need updates on an Amber Alert in your area or contact information for the nearest State Police detachment?

There's an app for that.

Troopers recently unveiled the West Virginia State Police app, which offers the public and officers another way to communicate, in the Apple App Store for iPhone users and in the Google Play store for Android users.

"Col. Jay Smithers saw the app as an opportunity to improve or enhance our communication with the citizens of West Virginia and the public," Sgt. Michael Baylous said of the State Police superintendent. "He wanted to do this."

They had been talking about the app -- what they wanted it to include and the best way to build it -- for the "bigger part of the year," Baylous said.

He said the agency looked at multiple options before deciding on the smart phone app. Baylous said if the app were well-received, they would build upon that success, but that it would never become the primary means of contacting troopers in case of an emergency. He said citizens still should call 911 or their local detachment directly in the case of an urgent situation.

The app will be used for multiple things, Baylous said, including critical incidents where troopers need to reach residents and also to provide alerts and updates on Amber and silver alerts.

"If we have suspect information that we need to get out there real quick, we have a way now of pushing it out to the public directly," Baylous said.

The app, which is available for free in the smart phone online stores, offers a look at the State Police's Twitter and Facebook feeds where press releases are posted and access to the mobile version of the agency's website.

Users also can get the locations of State Police detachments around the state as well as phone numbers and directions. Baylous said once a person selects directions to a specific detachment that the smart phone would then guide them like a GPS device to the site.

The app also has a "Videos" section, which Baylous says may include video of press conferences in the near future for the public and press. There also is a "Photos" section for pictures taken by troopers of everything from cadet classes at the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute to vintage photos of troopers on horseback toward the beginning of the agency's history.

The Sex Offender Registry, maintained by the State Police, also is available on the website with access to photographs and information about those on the registry. There also is a section to provide tips about criminal activity.

"This smart phone app offers many features which I believe will come in handy to anyone living in or traveling throughout our state," Smithers said in a press release. "All contact information for the West Virginia State Police is now readily available to those who download this free service."

The officer reminded those using the app on the road to either pull over or have a passenger in the vehicle use the app for them.

Baylous said the app is a work in progress and that users should "play around" with it and use the email feature to send troopers any ideas for improvement.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4850.


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