West Memphis woman helps police focus on community coordination

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — The West Memphis Police Department hopes a new position will lead to positive results.

Tawana Bailey hopes her role as Community Outreach Coordinator will build positive relationships between people in West Memphis and the police department.

"A lot of times, the children say they've never seen the officers in this capacity, in this magnitude. It's usually always when someone's being arrested," Bailey said.

Last year, Bailey, left behind a 10 year career as an insurance adjuster to take on the role of community outreach coordinator for The West Memphis Police Department. It's a new position, but she's already made a huge impact.

"The community loves her. The community loves what the police department is doing. I think you can see it with our social media and us just getting out into the community. The officers love it too," Bailey said.

The department's Facebook page has doubled it's like since Bailey took over, and has been more active on social media.

Bailey says this is building relationships that extend beyond a keyboard.

"Now we have our community as a whole starting to trust the police. They're starting to believe in us, and they're starting to help us out across the board."

The help is coming in the form of tips, which have led to more arrests.

"We're getting more help and more assistance from the community. I think that's important when you try to fight violent crime in the city," Assistant Robert Langston, with the West Memphis Police Department, said.

Part of that fight is a push to reach out to the youth before they head down the wrong path. One way they do that is with the police department's Summer Job Program. During the program teens help with career days, family events and they get a better idea of what it's like to be a police officer.

It's a positive and productive way for them to spend their time while on summer break.

"It keeps you out of trouble and keeps you in the community," participant Amuriel Cummins said.

She says the program gives her the tools she needs to better herself and those around her.

"Once you learn something, you'll be able to come back to that community and deposit something into future generations," Bailey said.

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