West Memphis explains how technology led to false information in search of shooting suspect

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (KAIT) – Crime chaos has spread across the Midsouth and parts of northeast Arkansas as a shooting suspect reigns terror in the city of Memphis.

The search for Eezkiel Kelly, 19, on Wednesday, September 7, spanned miles and police in three states were on alert.

For hours, the West Memphis police devoted themselves to monitoring the I-55 bridge.

Just before 7 p.m., the city was notified that the suspect may have stopped in the southbound lanes after entering Arkansas.

“It’s put everyone on heightened alert,” said DeWayne Rose, the city’s director of emergency management. “You have officers moving at high speed to intercept the suspect. So there are always obstacles if the information is not correct.

News of the suspect’s entry into Arkansas turned out to be false. West Memphis received the information via a “phone game” because the city cannot communicate with other departments by radio.

“[Misinformation being provided to the city] happen a lot more than people realize,” Rose said.

He explained that West Memphis is the only city in Crittenden County unable to communicate with other agencies, which is why he said miscommunication about what was really happening on the I-55 bridge was provided. to the city and, ultimately, to the media.

“The problem is we just have this information lag because we don’t have this radio-to-radio communication,” Rose said.

To make sure this doesn’t happen again, the city is in the process of connecting to the Arkansas Wireless Information Network which will allow any official to communicate with other officials in Arkansas, Memphis and from Mississippi.

Rose said the system would mean the “difference between life and death, it’s a very realistic statement because time is of the essence when you’re out here on the street”.

The goal is to ensure that when incidents occur in Mississippi, Arkansas police have the most accurate information to respond and save lives.

“It’s crucial for that to be able to talk and to make that result more successful,” Rose said.

The City of West Memphis said it has had communication issues like this before. More recently, it happened with the closure of the Hernando Desoto Bridge.

The goal is to have the new systems in place next summer. It should cost around $6,000,000.

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