HSPD chief touts five-year plan and use of technology
Hot Springs Police Chief Chris Chapmond has been “very, very busy” for the past 16 months since taking office, addressing issues he faced upon his return to town and launching an unprecedented five-year strategic plan for the department, he said Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, I came back to work with a few issues on the table that we had to resolve immediately,” Chapmond told Garland County TEA Party members during their regular meeting at the Hibachi Sushi Buffet.
“We had to change the cultural issues, change some morale issues, we had to work smarter, not harder. We were a little behind on some things,” he said.
The department has hired 23 officers since Chapmond’s return and “the vast majority of our department are officers who are very young,” he said, noting, “If you want to change the culture and change the outlook for a ministry or an organization, you bring in new people and teach them the way you want them to work and be police. “
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For the first time in the history of the ministry, they have a written strategic plan. “We have never put our goals in a written document to hold us accountable and I strive to hold us accountable,” he said, noting that the plan outlines “where we want to be as an agency over the next year, three years and five years. “
He said there were 31 aspects of the plan and “in one year we either finished or tackled 15 of them.” Some of the main pillars include building trust and legitimacy in the community by “holding on to the highest standards”.
As people talk about reforming and even funding the police and the need to change policies and procedures, Chapmond noted that 90% of “what they want to change, we’ve already changed. We’re already doing it. We banned strangling 15 years ago. We banned shooting at cars 15 years ago. “
He said officers are held accountable through use of force reports that are submitted to state and federal authorities. Each officer signs a code of conduct document each year and they have mandatory de-escalation training each year that most departments “probably tackle every three or four years.”
“We’re doing the right things. I’m proud to say it,” Chapmond said, noting that they have had body cameras for over seven years and on-board cameras “going back almost 20 years,” with every car and every officer by being equipped. .
“I love body cameras. I’m one of the biggest supporters of body cameras in this state. They automatically mitigate 90% of complaints, which is fantastic,” he said.
Asked how often the cameras are on, Chapmond replied, “They don’t run continuously. They aren’t designed to do this all the time,” but some triggers activate them automatically, like the officer’s vehicle. traveling at 74 mph or faster, the vehicle crashes or if the officer turns on his lights.
He said officers are also required to turn them on for any meeting with citizens and that supervisors are required to perform spot checks on all cameras every month. Chapmond also noted that he can activate any of the cameras as needed.
Another pillar of the plan is the increased use of technology, he said. “You can’t hire enough agents to overcome the criminal aspects of our community. There aren’t enough to drive out all criminals. You have to use technology to work smarter, not harder.”
With the ministry’s new “shots fired” locator, “If you shoot a gun in these areas where we have the technology, we get an alert within 30 seconds or even 15 seconds. This GPS locator indicates where the bullets were fired so our collection of evidence is up over 100%. “
He said they are able to determine how gun crimes are related. “What you can think of is that everyone and their brother shoot, actually it’s about 10 or 12 people. We were able to tie them all together and they go to jail for that. people in the middle of the street holding guns, wondering how we got there so fast. “
When asked about the area of coverage, Chapmond noted that it costs $ 50,000 for every square mile, so they used data to identify two square miles that accounted for 67% of the more than 700 shots fired from the calls that they have received over the past year.
He said he had met with the US attorney’s office and talked to private entities in Hot Springs “who have businesses here that could potentially support the expansion of this coverage area” through a private partnership.
“Not only to protect their business, but also to improve the safety of the community. Does every part of the city need it? Absolutely not. Should we extend it? Absolutely, ”Chapmond said.
The department also uses license plate readers, so “like a bad guy we register it. These readers are not big brothers. We put specific information that we are looking for,” he said. “We were able to track down the bad guys from here to the border and intercept them by bringing in narcotics.”
A member asked for access to information and if it could be sold. “The state legislates what we do,” Chapmond said, noting that the information is “held for a while. We can’t sell it. I know other states use it differently.”
Chapmond also touted the formation of a multi-agency violent crime task force earlier this year, which includes the HSPD, Garland County Sheriff’s Department, Arkansas State Police, the DEA, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), US Marshals Service. , the US Attorney’s Office, Homeland Security, and the Secret Service.
“It’s a huge amount of resources weighing on our problems in this community,” he said. “Every federal agency has three letters outside of the FBI” that allows them to prosecute criminals in federal court and get longer sentences.
“We have been able to prosecute 40 violent offenders federally for a total of 437 years. On average, it’s been around 10 years each. It means we don’t see them, ”Chapmond said. “On the state side, if they were the same 10 years old, we would be looking at them again in less than 12 months. They would be back here doing the same thing. It’s huge.”
He said they had identified twice as many through the task force and new technology and predicted: “In 18 months we will have a totally different view of where we were and where we are. are found. It’s not a quick fix. and it’s not going to be fixed overnight, but we’ve let it happen for so long that we have some catching up to do. “
Chapmond said he also took 295 firearms “off the streets”, made 164 arrests involving violent crimes and 404 drug-related adult arrests, “which play a role in 85% of all crimes.”
He stressed that “It’s not the people shooting all over town. It’s 12 to 15 involved in three or four gangs. We can identify them and work to put them in jail and if we can get them out of the way. rue, we really did something. “
Chapmond also noted that he strives to maintain physical fitness in the department. “I pay our officers an hour a day to train; an hour a day for me. They can either go for a run, they can go to the gym, they can do whatever they want to stay physically fit, because the physical fitness also creates good mental health, ”he said.
“Physically fit officers are less likely to be involved in a physical encounter when they run into a villain. A villain always rates you, to see how they can take advantage of it. If you’re that officer who has a stocky uniform and your belly hangs over your belt and they know you can’t run, they’re more likely to run away from you. “
The department has quarterly physical fitness tests and officers must pass or they are not fit for duty, he said.
When asked about the move to the Arkansas wireless information system like other agencies, Chapmond said the HSPD “is going to be the last to switch to this radio system. It has to be done 100% before we can. access it. The radio system entities are now doing this successfully. I can’t give you an end date, but I’m ready for it to happen. “
He said the department was already using the equipment, “we just haven’t hit the final start button yet.”
As for the merger of the town dispatchers with the Garland County Communications Center, Chapmond said it was the state’s recommendation, but “they didn’t tell us how to merge, they just told us to merge, so we’re working on this issue right now. “