HELENA-WEST HELENA — A Crime Task Force that brings together the Helena-West Helena Police Department, Phillips County Sheriff’s Office and Arkansas State Police are seeking community support to make their plans for a substation in downtown Helena.
“We will collaborate with the city, county and state police,” Joe Black told Helena-West Helena Rotarians Wednesday.
Black noted that long-time pharmacist Bob Wright made a significant investment to bring about a substation in an office that adjoins Economy Drug at the corner of Perry and Cherry streets.
Wright told the Daily World Wednesday that he had invested several thousand dollars to convert the empty space into a facility conducive to police work.
Black, president of Southern Bancorp Capital Partners (SBCP), an affiliate of Southern Bancorp, who’s been ardently involved in promoting tourism, said crime is a deterrent to the growth of tourism and the task force and creation of a police substation has been one of his more pressing goals.
“We know the state doesn’t have a budget. The state told us that if we provide a site a state trooper would be assigned to this area,” Black said.
Lt. Roy Covington, head of the H-WHPD’s Criminal Investigation Division, and Trooper Josh Berry were also on the Rotary program.
Black foresees HWHPD working in concert with other municipal law enforcement agencies, the PCSO and Arkansas State Police in combating crime.
“We would like to have this in place before the (Arkansas Blues and Heritage) Festival,” Black said.
Black called on area businesses to contribute to fund to help defray the cost of operating the substation.
“We need local merchants’ help to fight crime,” Black said. He suggested a nominal monthly contribution of $20 per merchants.
Covington said law enforcement agencies in Phillips County could share equipment and participate in a strategy to combat crime.
“We can all come together by sharing resources,” Covington said. “Eighty-five percent of all crime is solved by the public.”
Black said a special account was set up through Main Street Helena for public support. Contributions may be made directly through Helena National Bank and Southern Bancorp.