Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TOP STORY > >Sheriff cuts wide swath in Lonoke County

Leader staff writer

Who’s fighting crime in Lonoke County?

Based on the frequent press releases that make their way to local newspapers and Little Rock television stations, it might appear that the sheriff’s department is doing all the work in the unincorporated areas and a good deal of the work inside city limits where local police departments generally claim jurisdiction.

Appearances aside, the answer to the question is that all the agencies are working and often they work together. But not all agencies keep the public informed.

Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Roberson says he sends out press releases because it keeps county residents informed about what’s happening in their neighborhoods.

And knowing what to watch out for makes them safer.

A press release last week told the details of a marijuana bust on Sunset Circle in Cabot that also netted illegal prescription drugs priced to sell by the pill, numerous flat-screen televisions and numerous handguns, shotguns and rifles.

The next day, after the bust was announced on television, Jake Wesley Robertson, 26, and Kailee L. Horton, 19, turned themselves in at the sheriff’s department.

The two were charged with manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, felony theft by receiving, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both were released on $10,000 bonds.

That information came in a follow-up press release that also said the sheriff needs help locating the owners of several flat-screen televisions, several handguns and one X-box with initials scratched on the inside cover that were seized at the couple’s home.


In mid-May, Roberson was on television talking about a prostitution bust in Cabot’s exclusive Greystone subdivision. That case has not yet gone to court, but the two women who were arrested deny the charges and reliable sources say Cabot Police Chief Jackie Davis was not pleased with the way the arrest was handled.

Sgt. Brent Lucas, spokesman for the Cabot Police Department, while not disputing his department’s concerns about the apparent issues with jurisdiction, said Friday that although the address of the recent marijuana bust was Cabot, it was actually outside city limits where the sheriff unquestionably has jurisdiction.

“Cabot encompasses a large area and not all of it is inside the city limits,” Lucas said. “A lot of the Cabot mailing addresses are in Lonoke County and we’ve even got some Cabot addresses in Pulaski County.”

As for the alleged house of prostitution, Lucas said, “We got numerous calls out there and couldn’t get a warrant for it.

Apparently, the sheriff did.”

Lucas said that while it is true that sheriffs typically work the unincorporated areas and leave the rest for the city police departments, it is also true that the sheriff is the head law enforcement officer with authority over the whole county. Simply put, he can go anywhere he chooses.


But Lucas added that no police agency stays inside its own area all the time. Cabot Police Department and all others follow leads and sometimes those leads take them outside their own jurisdiction.

When that happens, they still follow, but they tell the police agency in that other jurisdiction they are there and what they are doing.

“We give them a heads up,” he said.

As for the issue of publicity, Lucas said his department intentionally minimizes its efforts.

“We don’t send a lot of stuff out,” he said. It’s not that we’re trying to hide anything, but you never know when one arrest might lead to another.”

Criminals often have accomplices, he said. If the word gets out that a suspect has been arrested for dealing drugs or some other illegal activity, the odds of catching his accomplices decreases.

Former Sheriff Charlie Martin, who is now serving as Ward police chief and running against Roberson for his old job, agrees.

The sheriff is the head law- enforcement officer in the county and he can go wherever he chooses, Martin said in a recent interview. But like Cabot, Martin said Ward tries to keep its efforts as quiet as possible.

“We find we get more done that way,” the former sheriff said.
Lt. Carl Minden, a public information office for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, said his department frequently works with other agencies.

The most recent big-news event, he said, was a 600-pound marijuana bust that also involved North Little Rock and the Saline County Sheriff’s Department.

Minden said his department tries to get information out to the public as soon as it’s available.


“I think it’s better to tell because it’s going to get out eventually anyway,” Minden said. “Besides it makes it look like you’re doing something.”

Lt. Jim Kulesa, spokesman for the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department and the source of most of the press releases, said this week that he has heard before that his reports make Lonoke County look bad, but he disagrees.

“You don’t hide crime. It’s not useful to hide crime,” Kulesa said, adding that it is common for his releases to lead to additional information and more arrests.

“It’s not about blowing our on horn,” he said. “You want to know what’s going on in your neighborhood so you can take better precautions.”

Victims of residential burglaries in The Leader’s coverage area who lost a television, X-box or firearm should call the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department at 501-676-3000 or 501-843-2611.