New construction begins after truck crashes into police department

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - It was just a month ago that an Animal Control Officer in Walnut Ridge was severely injured after a pick-up truck crashed in the police station.

Animal Control Officer Robert Rice was in the police station at the time of the crash. He suffered a broken leg, fractured his pelvis, thirteen broken ribs and four fractured vertebrae. Walnut Ridge Police Chief Richie Thatcher says Rice is making a quick recovery.

"Robert's doing really good. He just got out the hospital about a week ago from Friday. He's taking a three day rehab out of Jonesboro. I spoke with him yesterday (Tuesday). He's walking with a walker," said Thatcher.

Although the accident left the police department a total loss, work is already underway on a facility. Over the past two weeks, the Walnut Ridge Police Department has worked to hammer down the frame work for their new home.

"We're tickled to death. We're very excited. This is a building the city already owned. We've just had to come in and renovate everything. We've put in walls, put in offices, hung sheet rock," said Police Chief Richie Thatcher.

He says since the accident, the department has conducted business from the fire department. "It's been really challenging. We've just had stuff scattered and we're ready to get back to normal," said Thatcher.

The building is still a work in progress, but with the help of city employees and people in the community, who have volunteered their time and hands, things are moving quickly. Thatcher says almost 90 percent of the labor was done by those who have stepped up to help.

"People coming by and seeing if we needed any help. We haven't turned anybody down yet (laughing). Plus, it's saving the city a lot of money," said Thatcher.

Thatcher says they did get some money from insurance and the city to help pay for supplies and any extra labor they couldn't take on themselves. He says the layout of the new department will help better serve the way officers conduct business, and a even have a conference room that could benefit the county.

"Working with the county, Lawrence County, in possibly putting some of our smaller courts, drug courts, smaller claims courts that we're having to issue with at our Courthouse," said Thatcher.

Thatcher hopes to have the new department completed as quickly as possible.

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