CAVE CITY, AR (KAIT) – The town of Cave City has celebrateda lot of firsts recently.
Town officials cheered when voters approved the city's first-eversales tax by a narrow margin of 11 votes in October 2013. Revenue from that taxwill now allow the Cave City Police Department to patrol around the clock forthe first time ever.
When Nathan Stephens became police chief, he set a goal tofinally get constant police protection for Cave City. That dream became areality when voters approved the one-cent sales tax in October. The city plansto use half the revenue to hire and equip a new police officer, which will costabout $65,000.
Even though the town will not receive any revenue from thesales tax until March, Stephens said the city council decided to go ahead and hirea new officer in December so that the police department could providearound-the-clock coverage.
"We're up to 13 officers now. We just hired a fourthfull-time guy, and late in the fall last year, we added three reserve officers,"Stephens said. "Since we've added the fourth full-time officer, we've been ableto go to 24/7 coverage, which Cave City never had, so we've got an officer out24/7, 365 now."
By bringing on this new hire now, Stephens can work duringthe day with another officer and then have two others patrol during the night.
"After several applicants, we decided on Trent Milligan,"the chief said. "He was a deputy with the Sharp County Sheriff's Office andbefore that with the Izard County Sheriff's Office. He has eight yearsexperience. He's a real good officer."
Stephens said hiring Milligan came with an added bonus – a policedog that he had from a previous job.
"She's certified through the state to be a narcotics dog,"Stephens said, "and so far we're having real good luck with her. She's a hugeaddition to the department."
Having four full-time officers has also cut down responsetimes, particularly during the overnight hours when officers had to be on callat different times.
"It's [now] a response time of probably two minutes in thecity," Stephens explained, "whereas it probably would have been 12 to 15minutes by the time we got up and got our uniforms on and got ready to go."
The police chief said this change should be regarded as ahistoric one for Cave City. When asked about their thoughts on having 24/7police protection now, residents welcomed the news because they say it will makeCave City safer.
"Especially with alcohol coming into town," Melissa Howell said,"I think they really do need [24/7 coverage]."
"[Officers] being present alone kind of tells people, 'Hey,they're out. We've got to behave,'" Dannie Martin said. "It'll probably help alot of teenage kids stay out of trouble, too."
The one-cent sales tax will also help the city fund severalother improvement projects, including upgrades to local streets.