POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) – Black River Technical College’s Law Enforcement Training Academy is sending 57 new officers to the streets.
More than 40 police officers and deputies will be serving Region 8.
Governor Asa Hutchinson appeared at the graduation Friday, making him the first sitting governor as a guest speaker.
“I’m just thrilled to be here and share this day with the community,” Governor Hutchinson said.
He talked about several things, including law enforcement stipends, violent crime, and a fairer criminal justice system in Arkansas.
He signed a bill that would send $5,000 stipends for every full-time law enforcement officer, including recent graduates from Friday’s ceremony.
“We want to pay our law enforcement a better living wage,” the governor said. “We want to make sure that we recruit talented officers and set an example for our local governments that they will assess what they need to do in terms of public safety officer compensation.”
The stipends help agencies like the Jonesboro Police Department retain and recruit more officers.
“They have about thirteen weeks of training that they have to complete before they go out on their own,” Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliot said. “But at least we know it will be more bodies coming to the streets.”
Chief Elliot mentioned that he had four graduates from the academy, and more would be graduating the following semester.
The governor mentioned that crime has increased significantly in the natural state since 2020 and having more officers can solve the problem.
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