WM Police Commission keeping up with busy summer activities
Academy grads set to finish training this week
The West Memphis Police Commission’s June meeting was jumping with positive developments. Held the day after a twitter eruption with a picture of a pair of West Memphis finest fixing a bike chain just off Broadway caught positive regional reaction, the committee moved a number of police business items forward. Assistant Chief Eddie West brought a request for five new Tahoes to the board which recommended a budget amendment to purchase the units to city council for consideration at the next meeting.
Cars — Police Chief Donald Oakes explained the need in a separate interview.
“We are working on five new Tahoes,” said Oakes.
“Three quarters of our fleet has 100,000 miles on it.”
Some of the equipment in retired vehicles may be reused in the new units but according to the chief most of the equipment will have to be new to fit the changes in the Tahoe body style.
The design has evolved from a rounded look to one more angular and squared off. Police vehicles get 30,000 miles per year but with constant idle time it’s more like 180,000 miles worth of wear and tear on the engine after four years.
“We usually have to get new gear because the body styles change every third year,” said Oakes. “We run vehicles for four years before we rotate them out.
When they change the body, the width changes, the light bars won’t fit and interior width is different so the center consoles no longer fit. We can always use the same radios, so some equipment transfers.”
The need for new police vehicles is evaluated every year. Oakes provided an example.
“In the past we’ve bought eight or ten, but then don’t buy any the next year,” said Oakes. “But for about the last three years I’ve been trying to get on a five a year program and run all cars 30,000 miles per year.
That gets them to where we can cycle them out at 120,000 miles and they are used up with city driving and constant idling.”
Pole Cameras — City council approved another amendment to the police budget for pole cameras on June 1.
“We can do two for the $20,000, that will be an easy thing,” said Oakes.
The surveillance cameras were a long time coming but will prove useful in both deterrence and police investigation.
“It’s an interesting thing,” said Oakes, “the council has been kicking cameras around for years. I’ve told them all along when they funded them we could use them. We will put them to good use.”
The chief said the allotment may ignite a commitment to more pole cameras in years to come.
“Hopefully we can set up a system to buy additional each year,” said Oakes.
“Eventually you could have them covering all your major areas.”
Ward 5 Councilor and Police Committee Chairman Willis Mondy said the Wonder City youth club had raised private donations
to put cameras around
its building too.
“I’ve finally raised enough money to get them,” said Mondy. “We need to protect our kids over there.
These are not the ones the city is getting. When I learned the camera at the Worthington Park Fallen Officers Memorial was privately funded, I figured if we could get cameras to protect the memorial we could get some to protect our kids. We get them next
West Memphis Police
— Graduation is slated for Friday, June 16 at First Baptist Church West Memphis at 1:00 p.m.
The ceremony is open to
the public and Councilman Mondy said he would make a special point of being there.
“I know one graduate who is from West Memphis, Justin Stokes,” said Mondy. “I am going to leave the Municipal League meetings early so I can see him and all the whole class graduate. The city should be proud.”
— Remembrance festivities were announced by Mondy for the corner by the Wonder City Boys & Girls Club.
Franklin Park will be the site for a cookout party midday on Saturday, June 17.
“We will have a lot of kids out there,” said Mondy.
“We are going to feed, and I’ve got to do a lot of cooking.”
By John Rech