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Hughes Police Department shut down


State commission designates force “inactive” due to standards violations

By Ralph Hardin

It has been a tough six months or so for the Hughes Police Department.

Back in September of 2023, the department, which had only been back in service for a few months, lost half of its fleet of patrol cars when two individuals set fire to three police cruisers outside Hughes City Hall. The cars were a total loss, although Police Chief Cortez Bowers vowed to continue to serve the citizens of the community of about 1,000 residents.

Eventually, two teens were arrested and charged with the


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crime. They are currently awaiting trial.

In the meantime, Chief Bowers found himself in the center of controversy after a series of events that began back in December between the beleagured chief and a Hughes resident that played out on social media and in the real world.

A man named Cory Weems alleges that Bowers took drugs and money from him during a traffic stop, leading to an online war of words between the two men.

Sometime between then and Apri 4, Bowers was dismissed from his duties, as Hughes Mayor Lincoln Barnett stated, “At the time of this incident, Mr. Bowers was formally separated from the City og Hughes Police Department and was no longer in service as the Chief of Police.”

And in the latest turn of events, the city is officially without a police force altogether.

As of late last week, the Arkansas Division of Law Enforcement has shut down Hughes Police Department, at least temporarily, after finding it was not complying with the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training (CLEST) rules. The commission announced the move in a press release on Friday.

As a result, the department is now deemed inactive, which is described by the commission as a law enforcement agency that 'existed and operated under state law or local ordinance in the past but that currently does not exist or has not operated for at least six months.'

State officials did not say which CLEST standards the Hughes Police Department did not follow.

The commission says they will reconsider reinstating the eastern Arkansas police department at CLEST's next meeting on May 9.

According to the press release, division officials met with Hughes Mayor Lincoln Barnett to discuss how to lead the department back into compliance with the standards.

'We had a positive, productive discussion, and Hughes city officials have cooperated fully,' CLEST Director Chris Chapmond said.

File photo

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