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Parkin mayor disbands police, cites cost

by Kenneth Heard | April 9, 2016 at 2:11 a.m.

The Parkin Police Department has disbanded and deputies will now patrol the Cross County town of 1,100, Sheriff J.R. Smith said Friday.

Smith received a letter from Parkin Mayor Willie Patterson on Thursday evening saying that he was laying off the Police Department's 10 officers and dispatcher because of financial issues.

Patterson did not return telephone messages left Friday at the Parkin City Hall. Patterson, aldermen and former Police Chief Charles Wilson were all at a court hearing in Wynne on Friday, according to a person who answered the phone at the Parkin City Hall.

Patterson, who took office in January 2015, filed action against the City Council last summer, questioning its right to hire and fire employees without the mayor's approval. His brother, Charles Patterson, served as the previous mayor.

When the lawsuit was filed, at least two Parkin police officers resigned, and former City Clerk Mary Whitlock also quit.

"I'm going to take care of Parkin," Smith said. "We'll have to patrol Parkin more in the daytime hours than before."

Deputies have provided law enforcement to the town after midnight, when Parkin's officers ended their shifts. The city's Police Department did not staff officers during early morning hours for years. Smith's deputies also patrol Cherry Valley and Hickory Ridge after midnight because the towns' police forces don't staff the graveyard shift.

Troopers from the Arkansas State Police's Forrest City troop also will assist if needed, Smith said.

Sherry Gillone, the assistant manager at the Parkin Flash Market on U.S. 64, said she was not concerned about the lack of a police force in her town.

"The police didn't work here after midnight," she said. "We were by ourselves, anyway. We're a low-rate crime town. We don't have many problems."

Smith said he may end up hiring two or three more deputies if he sees an increase in calls for enforcement in Parkin.

"We'll just do a continuation of what we've been doing there and see what our call volume is," he said.

Smith said he may also restructure the areas his deputies patrol and create three or four zones in the county to better include Parkin.

He said Patterson told him that he expects Parkin won't have a police force for at least the rest of the year.

State Desk on 04/09/2016

Print Headline: Parkin mayor disbands police, cites cost

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