WMPD uses tragedy to highlight ‘9 p.m. routine’
Shooting death of teen puts spotlight on juvenile crime
“It’s 10 p.m., do you know where your children are?”
Those old enough to remember will no doubt recall the public service campaign that ran on television for nearly two decades in the 1970s and 1980s.
For the West Memphis Police Department, that’s not quite soon enough.
Following the recent shooting death of one West Memphis teen at the hands of another juvenile, West Memphis Assistant Chief of Police Robert Langston pointed to the department’s new “9 p.m. Routine” program launched as part of an effort to curb juvenile crime in the city.
With the “9 p.m. Routine,” the police department began reaching out through social media each night asking city residents to lock their house and cars and to turn on porch lights.
The shooting, the first homicide in the city this year, only highlighted the need for such a program.
Two individuals were arrested in connection with the shooting death of Dexter Moore, an Academies of West Memphis junior, at an apartment on the northeast side of the city.
One, the alleged shooter, was just 14.
Responding officers found Moore shot in the head on Feb. 6. One was 18. No gun or bullet casings were recovered and no pertinent video was downloaded, according to police. Instead, police developed a suspect and obtained an arrest warrant despite having to sort through conflicting statements. Police alleged a pair of misleading statements complicated matters and Laquincia Marshall, 18, a tenant at the murder scene, was arrested for hindering apprehension or prosecution.
“She made two statements that mislead detectives, one Wednesday night and another the next morning in an interview,” said Assistant Police Chief Robert Langston.
Police used information developed in another interview identifying a 14-yearold male as the shooting suspect.
News of the arrest made it to city hall by Thursday afternoon where Mayor Marco McClendon publicly passed kudos to police department representatives for their overnight investigation which lead to the arrests.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and I want to thank the police department for quickly solving the first murder of the year that happened last night,” said McClendon.
“They handled things very professionally at the scene that was getting tense.”
McClendon said the
“ A lot of times when juveniles get guns, they are getting them out of cars left unlocked overnight… We are asking residents to be more vigilant. Every night at 9 p.m. make sure to check your locks and remove valuables from your vehicle. If you see something say something.” —
West Memphis Assistant Police Chief Robert Langston pro-active police warned the family about their son being at the apartment.
“She went and got him out of there on Monday night,” said McClendon.
Chief Langston said the community should draw a lesson from a case with a teenager having a gun.
He said most guns used in crimes had been stolen and most often snatched from unlocked cars.
“A lot of times when juveniles get guns, they are getting them out of cars left unlocked overnight,” said Langston. “It’s really easy for juveniles walking up and down streets pulling on door handles.”
West Memphis citizens reported 278 break-ins last year. Police feel many more thefts happened, going unreported by residents unaware or too embarrassed to call police. A rash of items stolen from cars around Worthington Park made the news last year. Police eventually caught a pair of teenagers in the act who in turn confessed to dozens of thefts. Statistics revealed that 61.5 percent of breakins last year were unlocked vehicles.
With that data in mind, the “9 p.m. Routine” program was developed.
“We are asking residents to be more vigilant,” said Langston. “Every night at 9 p.m. make sure to check your locks and remove valuables from your vehicle. If you see something say something. Call Crime Stoppers at (870) 732-4444. Follow the West Memphis Police Department on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for reminders.”
By John Rech