TAKE YOUR BUSINESS ELSEWHERE
I believe deeply as a parent, a citizen of Arkansas and Sheriff of Saline County that one of the most significant problems we face as a nation, as Arkansans and as Saline County citizens is how to address drug abuse. When one of us is overtaken with the controlling desire for drugs, there is nothing else—no thought of responsibility to family, no thought of the betterment of community and our common values are abandoned for the need of drugs. The drug culture erodes and destroys everything necessary for our society to work.
As a career law enforcement officer with over 20 years of experience, I have personally seen the destruction caused by individuals using drugs and individuals choosing to sell drugs.
As an elected public servant, I would not be properly carrying out the responsibilities entrusted in me as Sheriff if I allowed deputies and detectives to only be reactive in addressing the drug problem. Even with limited resources, the Saline County Sheriff’s Office must be proactive and use effective strategies to prevent drug activity from occurring in our county.
Many property crimes and some crimes against persons reported in the United States can be directly attributed to drugs. Knowing that Saline County closely mirrors the U.S. statistics, I chose to take a hands-on approach to the drug problem. After being elected and prior to taking office, I hired Jay Fitzpatrick as my Chief Deputy. Chief Deputy Fitzpatrick retired from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with 26-plus years experience. He reached the level of Senior Executive Service, has far-reaching domestic and overseas drug enforcement experience and brings extensive strategic level skills to the Sheriff’s Office.
Another proactive step I have taken is assigning two Criminal Investigation Division (CID) detectives to a Special Investigations Unit (SIU) led by the Benton Police Department that specifically focuses their efforts on narcotics violators in Benton and Saline County.
The SIU has made 195 drug arrests, 80 of which are felony arrests, since January 1, 2015. Allotting two detectives to the SIU supports my goal of making it a lot harder to sell drugs in Saline County.
Additionally, for the first time in Saline County history, a detective from CID has been assigned as a Task Force Officer at the DEA office in Little Rock. DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge David Downing stated that, “Drug dealers do not recognize state lines, county lines or city boundaries. Cooperation among law enforcement agencies is crucial in the success of the DEA’s mission. Having a Saline County Sheriff’s Office detective assigned to the DEA has been a force multiplier and has already shown positive results in our ongoing investigations.”
I have increased training opportunities for CID detectives, as well as patrol deputies. Since taking office, the Saline County Sheriff’s Office has shown an increase in drug arrests and an increase the amount of drug seizures.
Finally, I have established a dedicated telephone line (501-303-5741), which will be monitored by CID where Saline County citizens can report drug activity in their community.
Although I firmly believe that enforcement of Federal, state and local laws is a key part of attacking the drug problem, I realize this is only part of the solution. My belief is that in order to show measured success in combating the drug problem in our county, a three-pronged approach should be taken: (1) aggressive enforcement of narcotics laws; (2) educating the public, at all ages, on the dangers associated with drugs use and; (3) rehabilitation for individuals with addiction problems.
Although my focus as Sheriff of Saline County will be on enforcement, I plan to utilize of my Command Staff to speak to students, parents, educators and business leaders about the dangers associated with drug use and the consequences associated with selling narcotics. I will encourage a strong relationship between the Saline County Sheriff’s Office and the Juvenile Drug Court, addiction rehabilitation centers and drug abuse specialists.
My message to the citizens of Saline County is that each member of my Command Staff, every deputy and every detective is taking the drug problem serious. From an enforcement perspective, the Saline County Sheriff’s Office will be assertive and aggressive. We will also take steps to educate the public on the dangers of drug use and we will work closely with groups that provide rehabilitation services.
My message to drug dealers in Saline County is simple: Take your business elsewhere or we will arrest you, seize your drugs and confiscate proceeds of your illegal activity.