Tuesday, October 04, 2016


Leader staff writer

It’s not about making the Lonoke County sheriff’s deputies lives easier, “it’s about improving the quality of life for all Lonoke County citizens.”

That’s how Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley explains his reasoning for continuing certain community outreach programs and adding a few more.

He started by dedicating two deputies to the county’s Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing and Education Team — it’s easier to refer to them as the S.C.O.P.E. members — from his office to be in charge of the county’s Community Outreach Program.

Cpl. James Hall will be leading the effort, and he will be assisted by Deputy Brett Collins.

Staley, who has been working on this program rollout for the better part of a year, said, “The purpose of this program is to help bridge the gap between the sheriff’s office and the community. Our goal is to strengthen ties within the community by implementing community-oriented programs and keeping the community informed and involved with what is happening in their county.”


Delories Allison moved back to Lonoke in 2013 and said that she believes there’s less crime in the area now than in the past.

She complained at September’s Lonoke City Council meeting about the junk cars in her neighborhood and mentioned two incidents that have occurred at her house.

Although she lives inside the city, she was encouraged to hear of a revamp of Lonoke County Neighborhood Watch program.

Allison thought that was a program her neighborhood could benefit from, saying, “We’ve got to work together. There’s nothing like neighbors watching out for neighbors.”

RD Hopper, Dist. 1 Quorum Court JP, has been attending 16th Section Crime Watch meetings for a while.

“It’s probably the biggest crime-watch group in the county,” he said. He’s not the only one who is interested and other cities like Carlisle have checked out the way the group approaches its problems.

“Almost the entire community is involved in the crime-watch program. They meet once a month, have a president and a board…John or one of his deputies usually attends meetings and sometimes give programs on different topics.

“It empowers residents and makes people feel more secure. Neighbors are looking out for neighbors…Ultimately, crime-watch programs make the community a safer place to live,” Hopper said.

Cpl. Hall said the goal is “to get the program more organized and keep the county’s neighborhoods safer.”

Staley added, “We want to empower all our citizens.”

The sheriff’s office is implementing a business and resident check program, with the goal, Hall said, “to be on a first- name basis with owners and do stakeouts in high-crime areas.”

The county is also introducing criminal saturation patrols. Basically, his office would put together a team who would cover a high-crime area 24/7. Hall said in addition to a show of force, the team would be intent on “catching the bad guys and reducing crime.”

Although warrant round-ups have been done in the past, Hall said the sheriff’s office plans to undertake this endeavor more often. The intent is to arrest people with misdemeanor, felony or high-risk felony warrants, as well as sex offenders who are violating the terms of their release. This might involve other law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI, DEA and others.

Staley is ramping up the sex-offender notifications program.

“It’s been ongoing, but we want to raise public awareness. Unfortunately, we have sex offenders in the county, and we do spot checks, but we’re asking the public to help with this program.”

He also cited the new laws that prohibit Level 3 and 4 sex offenders from swimming areas and playgrounds in state parks, and offenders who want to move to Arkansas be required to pay a $250 fine.


Hall said the new selective traffic enforcement is designed to slow drivers down using press releases to announce on what road and what day they plan to have deputies on patrol.

His office would place a deputy at a certain spot, for possibly several days, and cite speeders for violations.

It’s worked in Little Rock, North Little Rock and other areas, he said.

“We don’t want to write more tickets. We want to promote safer conditions on our roads,” Hall said.

Staley said he is committed to “continuing attending community watch-type meetings that address issues impacting residents.”

Allison said she welcomes all outreach by local law-enforcement, “Anytime they are willing to reach out to the community, it’s a good thing.”

But there’s much more.


Staley’s extends beyond the county and into the classroom with programs that are especially designed to keep the county’s kids safe while in school and afterward.

Recently the sheriff’s office K-9 unit visited the Lonoke School District.

The county now has three highly trained dogs, including two that are patrol/drug dogs and one that’s a bomb/patrol dog. It’s one of the only bomb detection dogs in Arkansas.

But when not working, Hall said the dogs are great ambassadors.

“They are friendly and love people. It’s a great way to introduce ourselves to the public,” Hall said.

Staley agreed, and added, “My goal is to have everyone know my first name.”

Hall said the program also includes driver-safety checks at school bus stops and school zones, and while it’s not a new program, he said the approach has changed.

“It’s now more about educating the public and keeping kids safe than writing tickets,” he said.

Staley has also put together a new school outreach program.

“All our schools have resource officers, but we want to strengthen the connection,” Hall said.

This program will standardize the sheriff’s office and school staff’s response to an active shooter or a natural disaster like a tornado.

“We want to work better with our schools,” Hall said.


Although not new, Hall said they’re continuing their Civilian Response to Active Shooter Environments C.R.A.S.E., and the Active Shooter Training – no cost for training.

Hall teaches the classes and gives civilians an idea of how to respond during a situation like the recent shooting at the Orlando, Fla. nightclub, or it might just be a dispute on a job.

During a recent Active Shooter class in Lonoke, with about 42 in attendance, Hall said, “It’s more than just carrying a gun. It’s about personal and workplace responsibility.”

Adam Justice has been on the Lonoke County Quorum Court for two years and lives between Lonoke and Cabot. “I really like the new programs and John’s approach to law enforcement,” he said.

Justice went on to say, “I like his sentiments…He isn’t territorial and is open to new ideas. John’s compassionate, and yet tough on crime.”

Justice supports the various programs, but he said the active-shooter program is a particular favorite.

“People need to be empowered as much as first responders,” he said.

In fact, Justice said that the overlying theme of the various programs seems to be “about empowerment.”


The Lonoke County Sheriff Office is continuing its officer reserve program and encourages anyone who is interested in the program to check it out.

Potential reserve officers go through the same background check as regular deputies but only have law-enforcement power while on duty. Regular law-enforcement personnel can make an arrest whether in uniform or on duty or not, Hall said.

There are about 35 reserve officers, and there’s room for about five more. The sheriff’s office can only have as many reservists as they have regular deputies.

“We’ve had the program for years and reserve officers do patrol (in an official department vehicle). It’s a force multiplier,” Hall said.


Staley said, “We’ve been growing, so it’s a good time to strengthen the relationship we already have with the community.”

The sheriff’s office has added courthouse security, jail jobs and deputies because of growth in Lonoke County.

Another reason for adding or updating the programs, he explained, “I’m a big believer in community policing,” still, he said, “We have a zero tolerance for crime. We’re here to protect all of our citizens.”

He said these programs are important to him and his department. Ninety percent of his 77-member workforce lives in Lonoke County, so they are personally invested in making it a better place.

He added that he is striving to make the sheriff’s office diverse and reflect the county’s population. The department’s members, include female, African-American, Latino and Caucasians, he said.

He said his people try hard not to see color but “see Lonoke County citizens.”

Besides Lonoke County being home, Staley said he wants to prevent the same kinds of problems other law-enforcement agencies are experiencing around the country.

After all, he said, “We are all family in Lonoke County…We hope that the citizens of Lonoke County are as excited as we are about this program and look forward to everyone’s help in making this (community outreach) program successful.”

If anyone has any questions, comments or ideas, contact the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office at 501-676-3001 or leave a note on the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page or visit www.lonokeso.com.