October 10, 2013 by wcobserver
-By Steve Winkler-
The West Fork Police Department is on a roll. The department is a recent recipient of grant money from Washington County District Court, the state legislature and the Arkansas revenue department. And, there’s more to come, according to the town’s Police Chief John Collins.
A grant for just under $7,000 is being used to purchase security equipment for the court, taser guns, signage, and other security measures. West Fork District Judge Casey Jones and Pauletta Weltch, District Court Clerk were instrumental in locating the funds and submitting the proposal, said Collins. He added that since January his department has assigned two officers to court duty.
A second grant from the Arkansas Legislature’s General Improvement Fund (GIF) for $5,000 will be used for increased technology for the department. The purchase of Axon Body Flex cameras will allow officers to transmit a visual image of what they see. Unlike dash mounted cameras the new models are attached to an officer’s glasses or with a head piece and record what the wearer is looking at.
Other grants are in the pipe line. The department has applied for a Justice Administrative Grant (JAG) through the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. The $4,300 from that grant will be used to replace the thirteen year old radar units in patrol cars.
A drug drop box which allows citizens to properly dispose of old medications was issued by the State Health Department. The box is located in the foyer at city hall.
The chief also pointed to a new evidence locker secured with funds from a grant submitted by Police Secretary Allenia Brenner and Patrolman Ken Ingalls. Ms. Brenner will serve as evidence technician.
The new police vehicle arrived Tuesday. The purchase of the 2014 Interceptor Ford Explorer was the result, in part, of a $15,000 budget savings which included $10, 000 in salaries and over $5,000 in vehicle maintenance expenses.
Officer training has increased department wide. Officer Ingalls offered that, “If you want training…we get you the tools to do your job.” Training is done by the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute in Little Rock.
The Chief told the Washington County Observer that in addition to working with other government entities in the area such Greenland, his office provides space for a Game and Fish officer who can be called on for backup when needed. He also emphasized that in addition to new equipment and training that the number of police reports so far this year have exceeded all of last year.
More funds are coming in the future. Mayor Hime is in the process of securing grants for video technology that will allow police to monitor the activity in city parks which have been the target of vandalism in recent months.
The city of West Fork is a newcomer to appreciating the efficiency and increased information distribution aspects of technology. Since her election in 2012 Mayor Hime has worked to bring the city into the digital age with a city website, modern phone system and digital recording and storage of official city documents.
When asked how he found the source of the grant money that benefits the city, Chief Collins didn’t hesitate, “Search the internet.”