Published: 17 December, 2012, 21:21
There isn’t a lot to do in Paragould, Arkansas, but residents of the town of barely 25,000 seem to have no problem finding trouble. Now in order to curb the rising crime rate, the city is proposing heavily armed police patrol the streets on foot.
At a town hall meeting on Thursday, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send cops dressed in full-fledged SWAT gear and equipped with AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013.
The militarized police force will be tasked with trying to control a crime rate that has made Paragould an increasingly dangerous place to live in recent years. According to statistics collected by city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults per capita are also well above the mean there, statistically suggesting Paragould is perhaps the least-safe among area cities.
"This fear is what's given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they're scared, we can do this,"Stovall said, according to the Paragould Daily Press. "It allows us to do what we're fixing to do."
In order to bring crime down, residents of Paragould may soon have to endure police officers brandishing semi-automatic assault riddles on the regular. What’s more, Stovall says, is he intends to have the cops collecting identification from everyone and anyone in an attempt to discourage criminal activity.
“If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reports him saying during last week’s meeting.
"To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason," he said. "Well, I've got statistical reasons that say I've got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you're doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area."
"They may not be doing anything but walking their dog," added Mayor Gaskill, "but they're going to have to prove it."
Soon after the Paragould Daily Press picked up the story, news of the small town’s efforts to enforce martial law began making headlines outside of Arkansas. On Sunday, Stovall authored an explanation on the Paragould Police Department website to clarify how exactly the proposed Street Crimes Unit will interact with citizens.
“Most often, this identification process will be nothing more than making contact with a subject, handing them a business card, and asking if they live in the area and if there's anything we can do for them,” he says. During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent, however, Chief Stovall says their process “will become more stringent.”
“We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”
Stovall adds that they program would not violate the constitutional rights of Paragould citizens, claiming, “Once we have an area that shows a high crime rate or a high call volume, it is our duty and obligation to find out why this is occurring and what we can do to prevent the trend from continuing. Therefore, identifying subjects in those problem areas help us to solve crimes, and hopefully to prevent future crimes.”
Paragould has scheduled two more town hall meetings to discuss the Street Crimes Unit.
Perhaps what is most alarming is the fact government is Militarizing many Law enforcement folks and most have little to no training on the proper use of the equipment they are getting. The government is worried about us having assault rifles??? You have got to be shitting me.
You can ask for a photo ID but heaven forbid you might have to prove who you are when you go to vote! That would be called racists!!!!
Obama is paranoid.
Another trial balloon: "Will 'the people' allow us to routinely violate their Fourth-Amendment rights simply because we have scary-looking guns?"
This is b.s.........the Mayor needs to read, and re-read the US Constitution........he has no authority whatever to arbitrarily stop people and treat them with suspicion simply because they are walking. What he needs to do is enforce the law on those that are committing crimes. What has his police force, investigators done in dealing with the problem. Maybe they need some new judges to put away the criminals.......get them off the street, not law abiding citizens.
Arkansas should be outraged as should all Americans..............
Good Point Harry. I have visited Paragould many times. My dad was born there and I still have many relatives and friends in the area. It seems that the politicians have lost their minds. I hope the people in that area will attend these Town Meetings and let it be known that their rights are being violated. In "Law" there is the "Probable Cause" clause that the police MUST have probable cause to stop anyone. Walking down the street, Peacefully, hardly meets the "Probable Cause" definition. It is certainly an "Over Reaching" of the laws and the Constitution. The folks of this North Eastern Arkansas must defend their God Given liberties and fight this unlawful act, as this will only be the beginning of more infringement of their liberties..
I say arm the citizens , long before you pull the martial law card. They are testing the waters to see how compliant and accepting we will be. This city needs to say "HELL NO" find another way. Arm us , in fact make it a law, all citizens must own and know how to use a fire arm. Watch crime dwindle down to nothing. Make it known upon intrance to the city that all citizens are armed , as required by law.
Obama Paranoid? He should be. All such would-be dictators are paranoid during the times when they are siezing control over the masses. They all know and understand that there will be people who will resist their grab of power and destruction. Adolph Hilter formed his youth group civilian military, later referred to as the SS. But once he gained enough power and control over everything he systematically had over half of those SS youth members executed,,,, again his paraoia kicked in and he became afraid of his own civilian Army. Stalin killed 35-50 million of his own people, Mao killed 50-70 million of his people. Back in the late 1960's Bill Ayres said they estimated that in a similar fashon, (to Mao and Stalin), they would have to kill 25 millon Americans. Obama should be paranoid, because I don't know about you people out there but I don't plan on walking quietly into any box car or gas chamber.
Those who have seen any of my posts know that I'm far from a supporter of gun control of any sort - quite the contrary - however, that said, I just have to observe that it's funny how times have changed. We watch old western movies and applaud when the likes of Wyatt Earp was hired by frustrated Town Leaders to bring a semblance of peace back to one or another raucus wild west jurisdictions. Earp, quite often, when guns were commonly worn on ones hip, issued "no guns in town" edicts to help control the prevailing lawlessness. Today we become incensed when a Mayor decides to, in effect, do much the same thing when the peace is threatened in a small Arkansas town. It is a true conundrum, isn't it!
I think if we got to the point where everyone WAS wearing a gun on their hip (like the Old West), we would be well on our way to "taking a bite out of crime". Point taken.
Mark: Don't know what happened to my earlier response to your post, but I'll try to repeat it. You are exactly right in your analysis and I agree with you! It's a dangerous and narrow path we're on, but one thing is without dispute, "The 2nd Amendment isn't a right bestowed on us by the government. It is a protection AGAINST the government removing a right which is INHERENTLY ours." We WILL NOT be disarmed without a fight! Neverheless, the conundrum continues.
In America, it's time to recall the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago:
"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security Operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say goodbye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst; the cursed machine would have ground to a halt."