SWAT Cops to Ask for IDs From Everyone in Arkansas Town, Is this a small trial of Martial Law? Will it spread?
Would police officers in your area having the “guilty until proved innocent” mindset make you feel safer? Is a militarized police force in a small town of 25,000 really the most effective way to prevent real crimes – ie, ones with victims? -Kate
There isn’t a lot to do in Paragould, Arkansas, but residents of the town of barely 25,000 seem to have no problem finding trouble. Now in order to curb the rising crime rate, the city is proposing heavily armed police patrol the streets on foot.
At a town hall meeting on Thursday, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send cops dressed in full-fledged SWAT gear and equipped with AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013.
The militarized police force will be tasked with trying to control a crime rate that has made Paragould an increasingly dangerous place to live in recent years. According to statistics collected by city-data.com, Paragould has had a property crime index rating more than double the national average since 2007. Rapes, burglaries, thefts and assaults per capita are also well above the mean there, statistically suggesting Paragould is perhaps the least-safe among area cities.
“This fear is what’s given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they’re scared, we can do this,” Stovall said, according to the Paragould Daily Press. “It allows us to do what we’re fixing to do.”
In order to bring crime down, residents of Paragould may soon have to endure police officers brandishing semi-automatic assault riddles on the regular. What’s more, Stovall says, is he intends to have the cops collecting identification from everyone and anyone in an attempt to discourage criminal activity.
“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reports him saying during last week’s meeting.
“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said. “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”
“They may not be doing anything but walking their dog,” added Mayor Gaskill, “but they’re going to have to prove it.”
Soon after the Paragould Daily Press picked up the story, news of the small town’s efforts to enforce martial law began making headlines outside of Arkansas. On Sunday, Stovall authored an explanation on the Paragould Police Department website to clarify how exactly the proposed Street Crimes Unit will interact with citizens.
“Most often, this identification process will be nothing more than making contact with a subject, handing them a business card, and asking if they live in the area and if there’s anything we can do for them,” he says. During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent, however, Chief Stovall says their process “will become more stringent.”
“We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”
Stovall adds that the program would not violate the constitutional rights of Paragould citizens, claiming, “Once we have an area that shows a high crime rate or a high call volume, it is our duty and obligation to find out why this is occurring and what we can do to prevent the trend from continuing. Therefore, identifying subjects in those problem areas help us to solve crimes, and hopefully to prevent future crimes.”
Paragould has scheduled two more town hall meetings to discuss the Street Crimes Unit.
Update: The town hall meetings were cancelled, “in the interest of public safety.” The claim is that with people who feel strongly on either side of the issue, a safe and productive meeting would not be the probable outcome
- q SLv 77 years agoFavorite Answer
Many states, including mine, have a stop and ID statute. This authorizes police to identify persons in suspicious circumstances. I don't know about Arkansas. I New York City they have a stop and frisk program which the police department credits with a drop in violent crime. http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/analysis_and_pla...
- Death PanelistLv 67 years ago
It looks like the citizens of Paragould have a choice: Either they can stop and provide their ID, or they can let their town be overrun by criminals. Or, they could move out of Greene County and go somewhere safer.
Judging by the comments on a newspaper article I'm reading, it looks like the reaction from regular citizens is overwhelmingly positive.
- andresenLv 43 years ago
This has happened to me earlier. My subject which i found out after a protracted long incredibly long communicate with the officer became this. There were toddlers interior the section slipping into this new subdivision the place homes have been being equipped yet no person lived yet. They have been parking on the hours of darkness and ingesting and doing drugs and different "stuff" i became out with my acquaintances and we desperate to look on the recent subdivision. as quickly as I became into the subdivision a motor vehicle became in at the back of me so i became blocked from turning around. I drove to the tip of the line and there have been 10 or so cop autos who at cutting-edge became on their lights. the reason he took everybody's identity became to run Warrant assessments. in case you have a warrant out and that they run your license you would be got here upon with the aid of license style or with the aid of call. He became in simple terms making advantageous none people had a checklist or a warrant earlier he enable us to pass. It became all a brilliant fake impact that we snicker approximately now.