City looks to purchase land for possible police facility

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The Jonesboro City Council will meet Tuesday night to discuss the possible purchase of land on Johnson Avenue, which could be utilized to construct a new police facility, Jonesboro Police Chief Mike Yates said Monday.

Yates said more than half of all the police department's call volume originates within a six-mile radius in north Jonesboro.

"We don't know what financing is going to be available. We're not sure how far out we're trying to build," said Yates.

Yates told Region 8 News he's been contemplating a new police model for the city for several years. He said he'd like to look at possibly implementing a precinct model, which would not have a headquarters as currently constructed.

"What I would like to do is to build that first precinct to a scale that would accomplish our needs as a headquarters for several years," said Yates. "The advantages of a precinct model are public convenience, where people can go to multiple locations and get their business done. Pick up an accident report, pay a ticket, whatever."

"The other advantage is it saves in some deployment time," said Yates. "The disadvantages are it's more expensive in the short run especially because you have to build several facilities instead of one."

Yates said the plot of land under consideration is in between North Rogers Street and Scott Street.

"That is definitely the place that we want a police facility, but we don't know for sure whether we want to commit to multiple precincts at this particular point in time," said Yates. "That location is ideal for some type of police facility."

Mayor Harold Perrin said he offered to purchase the three-acre piece of real estate for $125,000, which Perrin said the city has money set aside for. The council must approve of the purchase Tuesday before any other action can be taken.

"If in fact we put a police precinct or presence in that area, I think that would really be a big boost," said Perrin.

Perrin said the city wants to move in as a partner and not just a police force.

"We've got to look and see exactly what we feel needs to go in that area, whether it's a precinct mode or model or a central police station and then start the precincts in other parts of town," said Perrin. "I've visited with CDBG and they could possibly assist on some of the funding for a park area as well as a community activity room or something for the kids there."

The Community Development Block Grant has been working to revitalize north Jonesboro for nearly a year and a half, Perrin said. He said the program could help young people get off the streets.

"I think it will have some deterrent effect, just because of police presence. There's probably also a displacement factor, but that happens anywhere when you put the hammer down in law enforcement. You displace some crime and you resolve some," said Yates.

Perrin said the fact the new hospital on Stadium is under construction and Johnson is a five lane road has also played a role in finding a location for a possible precinct or station.

"We wanted all of that and if the council approves that, then I want to move things in there very quickly and start cleaning that up and tagging the trees and things of that nature and kind of do some planning on that," said Perrin.

The project would be funded by bond measures, Perrin said. He said the public safety tax passed earlier this year will not fund any construction.

"It continues the promise of public safety, and take in mind; we will not use the sales tax on public safety tax that we just passed. That's a whole other issue. This will be bond money or some other type of arrangement," said Perrin. "We know we have the land purchased for the fire station on Harrisburg Road. We know that we have street and sanitation going on now, but that's only for the mechanic shop. We need to go ahead and get the offices and buildings done. And also we've been looking at re centralizing administration into one facility or a campus setting or something like that."

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