Police patrols resume in West Memphis' East End

By Ben Watson - bio | email

WEST MEMPHIS, AR (WMC-TV) - Residents will see police on patrol again predominately African American neighborhoods like the East End in West Memphis.

"Regardless of what's happened in the past, we are putting the past behind us and we are working toward the future," police chief Bob Paudert said Monday.

It's a future that began Monday with a new partnership announced between police and NAACP leaders.

"Sure we have complaints, sure we have problems - all cities do," the NAACP president WIllie Catha Jones said. "We're not the only ones, but I feel that one of the things we should be working on is unity - unity within our leaders."

Just a couple of week ago, the streets of West Memphis were the focus of a racial controversy, after a City Council member was arrested on aggravated assault and fleeing charges.  That brought about complaints by people in the African American community that police unfairly target African Americans.

Paudert responded by pulling patrols from the East End, upsetting people even more.

Jones said that was then when she called a meeting with Paudert, and a compromise was worked out to bring the patrols back.

"We all know there's a struggle, however we must work to overcome that," she said.

Police and NAACP officials admitted the new arrangement is a work in progress, but feel in the long run it will be successful and bring more unity to West Memphis.

As for police, Paudert made a pledge to NAACP leaders that charges about residents being targeted because of their race will be investigated thoroughly in the future.

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