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.
The Honorable Mayor and Police Chief are both admitting they have failed in their ability to maintain law & order. Obviously neither of them know much about law enforce and what is actually required, I am sure the Arkansas Gov. is also a bit puzzeled as well. Maybe they should get in a huddle and read the law, especially state statutes regarding the powers of a mayor or police chief. Putting "troops" on the streets with M16 autos will see a lot of cops getting whacked and those weapons stolen. Arkansas again upholds it's backwoods/hill country recognition by all other states.
So it starts, do you feel safer now? Well you shouldn't because this is how it starts and claims to be doing it to MAKE YOU SAFER.... WOW!
This article bothers me because of the way it's written. Look, our Police Officers have walked the beat for decades. Crime increased when they stopped walking the beat and began driving Police cars. Walking the beat is up close and personal - the Police get to know a neighborhood, who belongs and who doesn't.
This picture makes it look like the aggressive arrival of the posse is for the criminals to quake in their boots. On the other hand, I can't exactly imagine these guys being the friendly cop on the beat to Miss Smith walking her dog who lives in the ranch house on the corner and or hauling her groceries into her apartment building from the car park. But who knows? Personally, I like men in uniform when they are carrying a gun.... well, yeah, if they are on our side, of course.
I don't know if this has any relevance, but Arkansas defeated the State Sovereignty Resolution ( correct me if I am wrong). But whether it was passed or not, citizens are supposed to get to know their Sheriff. I am behind Sheriff Joe stopping citizens to check ID, but he's in the sovereign State of Arizona.
However, I'd like to see an interview with the Police Chief to get more background about the crime wave and hear from the scared citizens at the Town Hall Meetings. We don't have all the details.
There are a lot of conservative folks in Paragould that have been running their mouths and talking the talk for years. Now, we'll see just how much they stick to their values when their noses are put to the proverbial grindstone, so to speak. My guess is they'll all turn out to be "folders" when the rubber hits the road, John Beener types. The'll all cave in just as the paper folks have done in denouuncing this notion of martial law. However, as I see things, this is the necessary step to maintain the Constitution of the USA. All of us, we must step back from what we have now under our federal constitution's guarantees and take martial steps to insure the take over by foreigners and bad folks doesn't continue.
This would necessarily include summary execution of all drug runners and drug involved folks, mid-east religious fanactics such as moo slums and liberals. Five years of that and we can safely return to the way it oughta be.
The gestapo smell of this whole mentality in Paragould, AR law enforcement cannot be ignored...I hope the populace recognizes it and stands up in mass at the next two town hall meetings.
Citizens simply must dust off their private weapons, announce it publicly, organize neighborhood watches, whatever it takes to convince law breakers, and the city law enforcement, that the Constitution is still the law of the land. If enforced, our constitution has proven it works.
Paragould is a microcosm of America...evil has and is being overlooked to the point that severe, painful measures will be required to bring us back to constitutional law, order, and a moral society...in my opinion.
Totally concur Eric
It's amazing what power fear holds over people. People will do anything to stay "SAFE". People need to step through the fear and overcome this ludicrous thought that we can control every aspect of daily life with more rules, regulations and police officers. Time to take the personal responsibility to protect one's self and one's family, and unite with those of likeminded understanding.