Armed SWAT Teams To Patrol Streets In Arkansas City
December 17, 2012
Paragould, Arkansas Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall announced at a December 14 Town Hall meeting that beginning in 2013 the streets of their city were going to be patrolled by police officers bearing SWAT gear and AR-15s. “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, and check for your ID.”
The move comes in response to a recent increase in violent crime. In a city with a population of only 26,113, Paragould had 86 rapes, robberies and assaults in 2010 and those numbers are expected to nearly double for 2012. Paragould currently has a City-Data crime index rating of 465.0, well above the national average of 309.3.
Property crime statistics in Paragould are even more alarming. While the national average for burglary, theft and auto theft is at 7 for every 1,000 people, the Paragould average is 20.14.
Police Chief Stovall told citizens attending the Town Hall meeting that he did not consult an attorney before making plans to institute what he considers martial law. He also announced that task force members could stop anyone they wanted to and didn’t even need to be looking for a specific suspect on the streets.
According to Stovall, any individual who does not produce identification could be charged with obstructing a governmental operation.