Paragould’s police officers have some new policies in place, thanks to the Paragould City Council.
Earlier this month the council approved several new policies as presented by Police Chief Todd Stovall.
Primary among them is a new protocol for the use of the opioid inhibitor Naloxone. “We get this (Naloxone) through a grant from the state,” Stovall told the Police Committee which met in advance of the regular council meeting, “and this year our Naloxone is expiring. So we need a new grant.”
Receipt of the grant requires the new policy. Briefly, use of Naloxone involves spraying it into the nose of a suspected opioid overdose victim. If the individual had in fact overdosed on an opioid (like heroin, morphine, codeine, etc.) Naloxone blocks the effects of the opioid temporarily, allowing the victim to receive medical care to counteract the overdose altogether.
If the suspected overdose victim has not overdosed on an opioid, there is no effect whatsoever.
With the new grant, Stovall said, comes the new policy the department must implement.
Another policy the department sought to have changed governed the retention of video recordings. “The thing that we’re changing,” Stovall said, “is that for civil matters, we have to retain the recordings for three years or until such time as the civil matter is resolved.”
Noting the department deals with civil matters (like civil standby, barking dogs, etc.) “a lot,” Stovall said retention of such recordings created a storage problem. “So we have changed it to 90 days, just like we do a criminal matter,” he said.
Stovall noted, however, that if the officers believed an issue might proceed from the civil matter, the department would mark the subject video for retention.
A third change in police policy was in the reserve police officer program.
“When we first got our policy, we got it from Jonesboro,” Stovall said.
As adapted from the Jonesboro Police Department, certification of reserve officers had involved accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
“In doing so,” Stovall said, “it required us to do a lot of things we don’t do.”
Given that the Paragould Police Department is not a CALEA agency, he said, there is no reason for the reserve officers to comply with its accreditation requirements.
Such officers do have to complete the Reserve Officers Police Course, approved by the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training.
Another policy change involves annual firearms training. Stovall said the policy had formerly required such training to include low-light shooting and decision scenarios.
“What we have done is change the wording from ‘must include’ to ‘should include,’” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard for us to get that (kind of training) done.”
A change that will be most visible to the general public is permission and regulation of facial hair on officers. Stovall suggested that competition with other police departments for police recruits had been hampered by the Paragould Police Department’s lack of a policy permitting the growth of beards. “When I started doing background on this,” he added, “one thing I noticed was that people would grow one week’s shadow and then shave it off, and start it all over again.”
So the policy permits the starting of a beard only twice a year. “You’re either going to grow one,” he said, “or you’re not.”
Lastly, Stovall told the committee another change of policy is elimination of a requirement to put onto required property and evidence management paperwork the name of a defendant and disposition of any case pertaining to any charge filed against him or her upon destruction of the evidence/property. The remaining requirement includes only the police department case number, the court case number, description of the evidence/property and the name of the individual swearing the affidavit pertaining to the evidence/property.
The Police Committee unanimously approved recommendation of the policies to the full council, which likewise approved them unanimously.