Nine months ago I moved to the River Valley to begin my job here with the Press Argus-Courier. Since then I’ve encountered eye-opening things around every turn.
Suffice it to say, some of the things I’ve seen in real life haven’t happened the way I’ve normally seen them play out on television or the silver screen.
And that, in this case, is a good thing.
How many times have you been watching some crime show where a crime has happened and one branch of law enforcement is working the crime scene, only to have another branch step in and “take over” the crime scene, or the entire investigation?
While it makes for good, dramatic television, it’s certainly not the most cooperative way to get the crime solved, to protect and serve.
I refer to the various law enforcement departments as branches because they all branch off the same crime stopping tree, right? Well, they’re supposed to anyway. And for a tree to grow strong and healthy, it helps if all branches are strong and healthy and working to the benefit of the entire tree.
What I’ve seen over the past nine months from our crime fighters has reinforced my original idea that moving to the River Valley was a good decision.
First there was the November tornado. While it was mostly a city and county event, it was refreshing to see those departments — as well as the city and county governments they’re tied to and the other first responders who stepped in — hit the ground running and working together in seemless fashion to the benefit of the citizens of Van Buren.
Then, earlier this year, there was the riot at the Crawford County Detention Center.
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, seeing it was shorthanded at the outset of the event, put out the call for help and, in return, received more than enough. Representative from the Van Buren, Alma, Kibler and Mountainburg Police Departments pitched in, along with Arkansas State Police and Arkansas Highway Patrol officers, just to name a few.
The result was another victory for the good guys.
And then there was Wednesday’s robbery of the Arvest Bank in Alma. Within minutes of the 911 call, the robber had been captured.
And who helped the incident go from a bad start near downtown Alma to a successful conclusion just south of West Fork?
Well, who didn’t might be a better question.
Of course there was the Alma Police Department. But how about this list of others who responded: Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Highway Patrol, Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, Van Buren Police Department and even the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
And since the robbery involved an FDIC institution, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is now in charge of the investigation.
With the help, in a cooperative manner, of course, of the hometown Alma Police Department.
That same spirit of cooperation is being witnessed while the Arkansas River is acting up, seeking out areas of least resistance with no regard for human life and livestock that might be in those low-lying paths.
Regular press conferences and press releases are keeping citizens informed on what is going on during these dangerous days.
Around-the-clock patrols are monitoring the river’s levels against the levees as well as encroaching flood waters in the lower-lying neighborhoods.
During one particular press conference earlier this week residents of the city of Van Buren — and the rest of the region, for that matter — witnessed that same cooperation within some of the departments of their city government. Mayor Joe Hurst, Police Chief Jamie Hammond, Fire Chief Tim Arnold and Municipal Utilities Director Steve Dufresne answered questions from three television stations and two newspapers regarding the latest on the rising Arkansas River. County officials were supposed to be there as well, but were called away at the last minute to take care of a couple of flood-related matters.
Our local public officials can’t stop the rains from falling. They can’t keep the Arkansas River from absorbing that rain and they can’t keep it from reaching record levels. They can’t keep an idiot from walking into a bank with a loaded gun and then leading law enforcement on a wild chase through our public streets.
But it’s nice to know they’re here for us when those things do happen.
It’s comforting to know they’re willing to join forces to make sure that idiot will get locked up for the crime he committed.
And when the river roars, it makes us feel a little better about our situation just knowing these branches are working together to keep us safe.
Protecting and serving. And in a spirit of cooperation.
Bennett Horne is the editor of the Press Argus-Courier and Alma Journal. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.