Helena's crime wave | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Helena's crime wave

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2008 at 1:34 PM

The Helena-West Helena Council has adopted a "plan of action" to deal with a crime-ridden neighborhood. Looks to me like Mayor James Valley's martial law-style curfew has been softened a bit in response to ACLU complaints about its unconstitutionality.

There will be saturation patrols and rigorous enforcement of existing ordinances. That's an improvement over a blanket crackdown over being outside while exhibiting no cause for arrest.

City of Helena West Helena Police Department

Saturation Zone and Curfew Plan of Action
August 12, 2008

The Police Department has assessed our crime situation in the City of Helena-West Helena and we have come up with a plan of action that we think will address a lot of problems that we are having in our community.  Over the last several days, we have successfully implemented curfew saturations in the areas of Anderson and Sebastian, to Anderson and 4th Street, 4th Street and Plaza, 4th Street and Sebastian.

Our new plan will consist of zoning our city into six (6) sectors.  This will allow us the ability to assign officers to each sector per shift.  We feel that this will allow our officers the ability to focus on a particular area. 

Our zoning plan will also allow our Records Department to report our high crime areas by zones.  The information will give us the ability to know the areas that we need to saturate.  Our saturation efforts per zoning plan will work the way that our curfew plan has worked.  Our saturation efforts will consist of checkpoints, foot patrol, knock and talk, and identification of our criminal element. We will exercise every opportunity to serve pre-existing warrants.

We propose to take N. 2nd Street from Plaza Street to Anderson Street, a south bound one-way street and N. 3rd Street from Plaza Street to Anderson Street, a north bound one-way street, with Center Street from Anderson Street to N. 2nd Street, a one-way street.

Additionally, we are proposing a swap out program.  This program will utilize officers from other agencies for covert operations such as surveillance.

The Curfew shall be applied to minors at all times are required by the city code. Adults will be observed on a case by case basis and dealt with in accord with established state and federal law.

The Department has not made any arrest, to date, for curfew violations. All violators which have been processed were for other breaks with the law. However, we are proceeding with zero tolerance on crimes and traffic in the relevant zones.

During this 3 day operation, the department has netted a total of 32 arrests, of which 22 were misdemeanors and 10 felonies.  The majority of these arrests were weapons violations and drug possessions to include the following:

2 simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms
7 possession with intent to deliver
1 fugitive warrant served
4 misdemeanor possession of firearm
2 misdemeanor possession of marijuana
18 existing outstanding warrants
a)      7 suspended d/l

b)      8 FTA

c)      3 no d/l

During this 3 day period, arrests were 26% of last month's arrest total.

In order to accomplish these proposed goals, we are asking the city for funding in the areas of shift differential pay for the officers and dispatchers who participate in our saturation and zoning plan.  This differential takes into consideration that persons will be working late night shifts in addition to regular tours of duty. These late night shifts average four (4) hours.

Also we will need funding for surveillance equipment and rental cars for our swap out program and covert operations.  We are also asking that the City Council to take appropriate measures for turning 2nd Street, 3rd Street, and Center Street into one-way corridors. 

The morale of our department is very high.  Our efforts will continually be aimed for the preservation for the safety and protection of our citizens of this community.  We ask that the City Council and this community accept our proposed plan and support our efforts


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