PARKIN, Ark. — A small Arkansas town is at risk of losing half its police force.
WREG visited Parkin, Arkansas after talking with officials there about the controversial vote that has the department in limbo.
Soon Parkin could have fewer officers than the four cruisers sitting outside the department’s headquarters.
Mayor Diane Patterson said this week, the council voted 4 to 2 not to give newly hired Police Chief Jeremy McNeil a raise.
“Since the chief resigned, all of our policemen got up and kind of walked out and said if he’s gone we’re gone too,” Mayor Patterson said. “His salary is only $26,000. We have no health benefits, no retirement, no anything for police officers.”
Patterson said when she brought forth a $12,000 pay raise, the council booted the idea. She said McNeil verbally resigned and three other officers also said they’d quit.
“If everybody leaves like they said they would then I would be down to three part-time officers,” Patterson said.
Currently, the 7-person department pays officers between 11 to 12 dollars an hour.
“Something is going to have to be done for the pay,” Patterson said. “Because who is going to put on a police uniform for 11 dollars an hour when McDonald’s and Walmarts and everybody pays more than that.”
We asked Councilwoman Sherry Gillon why she voted no.
“The city just don’t have the money at this time. It’s just such greater needs here that need to be done,” Gillon said. “You can’t say never we can just say not right now.”
Mayor Patterson said possibly losing officers will trickle down to local businesses like this gas station because business owners are telling her they may have to close their doors earlier due to safety concerns.
Now, WREG has been told he’s going to close as soon as it gets dark because they once robbed before. Worries have spread to many community members who want a local police department.
“It’s real important because you know we have to wait for the county to get here if a call goes out or anything it’s a matter of life or death,” Terry Washington, a Parkin Firefighter said.
Mayor Patterson said the town will be relying on the Cross County Sheriff’s Office to help fill in the gaps.