Rescue plan

Garland justices of the peace to consider funding new MPs using bailout funds

HOT SPRINGS – The Garland County Quorum Court will consider a proposed order Monday night that would affect $ 119,317 of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act allowance to fund two new deputy positions in the sheriff’s office.

The county will receive the balance of its $ 19 million relief allowance later this year. In November, the quorum court allocated $ 598,120 of federal money to fund $ 1,200 in bonuses for full-time county workers.

The county did not receive the Justice Department grant for community policing it requested in July, according to a list of grant recipients the Department of Justice announced in a November press release. The county has requested partial federal funding for six new assistant positions.

The grant would have paid 70% of the salaries of new hires for three years, requiring the county to fully fund the positions for at least a year after the grant funding ends. The Justice Department said the Hot Springs and West Helena Police Department were the only law enforcement agencies in Arkansas to have received grants to hire more officers. The Hot Springs Police Department received a grant of $ 625,000.

The $ 5.8 million budget approved by the Quorum Court for Sheriff’s Office enforcement operations in 2022 has funded more than 30 patrol assistant positions. The sheriff’s office said the two new deputy positions are needed to cope with rising call volumes, rising crime rates, staffing issues caused by covid-19 and the local police.

“Unfortunately, current staffing levels do not allow MPs to spend time building relationships in communities across Garland County as MPs often go from call to call with little to no time. in between, ”Sheriff Mike McCormick said in a letter to the county. Justice Darryl Mahoney. “The GCSO Community Policing Project seeks to increase visibility in communities, reduce response times to calls for service, and implement community-based policing principles to gain community trust. “

Seven assistants are assigned to each 12-hour patrol shift, but personnel limitations sometimes require five assistants to patrol the more than 700 square mile jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office. McCormick said the pandemic had exacerbated staff problems in the office department.

“Most of the patrol division has been exposed to covid-19, and several MPs have been infected with covid-19,” he said in the letter. “When an assistant has a confirmed case of covid-19 and is unable to work, it creates difficulties not only for his shift, but for the entire Patrol Division.”