VIDALIA, La. (KTVE/KARD) – The Vidalia Police Department recently added new software to the investigation department in an effort to keep the community safe.

The new software is called Oxygen Forensics Detective. Chief of Police, Joey Merrill, says the new technology is used to extract data from any electronic device to help solve criminal cases. 

“Everybody has a cellphone, and most of the time people put pretty much everything about themselves and the people who own that phone,” Merill said.

The software allows law enforcement to collect evidence from videos, text messages, and social media accounts. Forensic Tech Investigator, Robert Cross, says the software helps to investigate juvenile crimes, and homicides just to name a few.

“We have really been doing a lot of narcotic investigations and stuff. Tracking down transactions and stuff between two parties and text messages and pictures. A lot of drug dealers like to advertise their drugs.”

The $15,000  new forensic investigation program is funded by the Vidalia Police Department. Chief Merrill says the department will no longer have to rely on other agencies to help solve these cases. 

“We were having to go to other agencies and State Police. We had to wait in line and stuff like that. Normally, when you need this information, you need it pretty quick to be able to make the case. It has helped out tremendously by having our own software.”

Cross says social media is one of the main platforms for these crimes, mostly targeting the most vulnerable. 

“I’ve seen teenagers and stuff purchasing drugs through social media and text messages. It would be good for parents to go through their phones every once in a while just to stay in their child’s lives and see what’s going on.”

We are still a small rural town, but we are working to be able to get the proper tools that we need to be able to keep our community safe, and as many drugs off the streets as we can,” explained Merrill.

Chief Merrill says they hope to continue expanding their program in the near future to better serve their community.