PPD clears up "martial law" speculation

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Paragould Police contacted Region 8 News to clear up speculation that they'd be imposing Martial Law on citizens in the new year.

PPD said the rumors started flying after they made known their plan to implement a Street Crimes Unit to deter crime.

"We are well aware of Supreme Court cases that tell us what we can and cannot do," Corporal Brad Snyder with the Paragould Police Department told Region 8 News. "We won't go out there and do things we can't do."

In an exclusive interview with Region 8 News, Snyder said their plan to lower crime rates has been blown out of proportion by misleading articles on several websites.

"I think a lot of people have the misconception that these guys are going to be walking, shoulder to shoulder, down the middle of the street with rifles in hand...and that is completely false," Snyder said.

Snyder clarified that the purpose of the Street Crimes Unit is to increase police presence in high crime areas during the late night and early morning hours.

All of this information was presented to Paragould residents during town hall meetings on December 11 and 13.

"Anybody that attended those meetings had the opportunities to ask questions if they were either concerned about something or were kind of fuzzy about details," Snyder said. "To our knowledge, anyone that attended those meetings left with good feelings."

But now, their idea to deter crime has garnered international attention, with people claiming the police station will be infringing on people's constitutional rights.

Snyder said this is false information.

"We cannot demand IDs. We can ask. But we can't demand," he explained. He said if people don't comply, "then that's it...but we are going to be visible."

To increase officers visibility at night, some officers will be wearing SWAT gear, as opposed to normal uniforms.

"Our uniforms, they're dark. They have patches on each shoulder and a small, silver badge on the chest," Snyder said. "But these guys that have SWAT vests, they've got "police" as big as can be on the front and back of those vests. So it's obvious that it says "police" and it's obvious that it's police officers there."

Snyder said along with SWAT gear, they informed residents that officers might also carry AR-15's during their Street Crimes Unit patrols.

"It's gonna be isolated incidents where those even get deployed. But our goal was to say if you see them, if your kids see them, if they happen to be out or looking out the window, not to be scared. We're the good guys."

Snyder said they are still committed to putting the Street Crimes Unit into action. They say that, along with turning the old fire station on East Court Street into a police substation, will deter criminals from committing crimes.

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