KENNETT/JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Arkansas State University Police Department said Thursday it is making headway on two violent crime cases that have happened on the Jonesboro campus. According to Police Chief Jim Chapman, police have sent evidence to the State Crime Lab in Little Rock and are awaiting results in a rape case. Police sent evidence in a murder investigation Thursday.
"You've got a lot of leads to follow up on. A lot of information that you hear that you have to separate rumor from fact," said Chapman. "You have to understand that without people stepping forward and saying something, oftentimes you don't have anything to follow up on."
Chapman said there are 18 full-time officers with the university. With enrollment at roughly 12,000, officers perform many of the same duties as a municipality.
"A homicide investigation presents a lot of challenges. It doesn't matter what size municipality or university you are," said Chapman. "In today's society, you don't rule anything out. Anything is possible. When you work at a municipal police department, you don't anticipate homicides but unfortunately in today's world they happen."
Chapman responded to comments made by Kennett Police Chief Barry Tate. Tate said Thursday that the Dunklin County Major Case Squad is called to investigate all homicides within city limits. Chapman said university police are always criticized.
"You can't let those comments dictate what you do and how you do what you do," said Chapman. "Your mind gets so overwhelmed with the number of things that you're trying to get accomplished that, wait a minute, did I miss a step that I need to go back and backtrack, so that's important."
Tate told Region 8 News all homicides are investigated by the Dunklin County Major Case Squad to reduce the burden on officers. Kennett employs 25 full-time officers. The city's population is just under 12,000.
"If we have something such as a murder investigation or something like that, we have an agreement with all of the local sheriffs and police departments," said Tate. "Not to say that we couldn't solve the case but it strains us with the number of calls we that we get monthly and the reports that we have."
Tate said the average amount of time for an arrest to be made after a murder is committed is six hours.
"Even if we made an arrest, due to all of the paperwork involved, the interviews, we only sometimes have five to six officers on the streets, and with our number of calls and our resources that we have available, we would automatically turn to the DDCC to handle that for us," said Tate. To get things solved the sooner the better. The sooner the better for everybody and that way you don't have anybody running around here on the streets."
"I've seen it happen here within a simple hour and anywhere from one to six hours probably and the thing is usually solved and the person is in jail and charges are filed," said Tate.
Chapman said he has to find small periods of time throughout his day to perform administrative duties. He works on the rape and murder investigations most of the time.
"If I didn't have experience in investigations that I have, and the police experience and knowledge that I gained in 23 years with North Little Rock, I feel pretty confident we'd be overwhelmed right now," said Chapman. "Those people are hurting and they want answers and they don't understand and you want to get those questions answered for those folks as quickly as you can."
"I don't know if it's a matter of pride or what but we we're just under the impression here that we want the crime solved, it doesn't matter what it takes to get it done," said Tate. "Don't strain the number of officers that you have. I'm sure they're tired. They're wore out. I know. I've been there myself. Go to outside resources. Don't be afraid to go to outside resources to get help to get the thing solved. I mean, we don't hesitate here at all to do something like that."
"Even if you talk to Kennett long enough, when they have a homicide investigation, even if they go to a major case squad, those folks have other responsibilities as well," said Chapman. "Homicide investigations in particular are strenuous because you have a victim who can't speak for his or herself, which starts you off in a hole."