Days of probation and parole offenders walking the streets may be over in Helena-West Helena, says Mayor James Valley after working to end a communications barrier between the city and state crime units.
The old days of parole or probation offenders walking the streets of Helena-West Helena may be over announced Mayor James Valley at the weekly gathering of the Kiwanis Club Wednesday.
According to Valley, a communication problem between the city and state was allowing parolees and probationers to be continually jailed without a violation logged against them.
Valley said that information about “white warrants” was not being shared with the city and resulted in parolees or probationers being released from jail on bail or bond. Now that the city has the “white warrant” information, offenders will stay in jail for their violation.
“It’s the best thing that has happened because of the police saturation,” said Valley.
Valley detailed the city’s war on crime. He explained that clicks or groups of citizens, not gangs, in a 10-block area were fighting each other and that was what prompted the curfew, which is now a police saturation zone.
“There were random shootings from dark until about 3:30 a.m. for weeks,” he said adding that the gunshots echoed across the city.
Valley said that in about five days, another sweep was planned although he did not elaborate on what area of the city would be affected.
Valley apologized for the national media attention and the negative spin on some of his comments.
“Perhaps I shouldn’t have said we were going to pop them (criminals) in their head. I just meant we were going to take it seriously,” said Valley.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas wrote Valley a letter warning him that the curfew infringed on citizens’ constitutional rights and Valley elaborated on that subject as well.
“I have no problems with the ACLU,” he said and explained that any police officer can stop a citizen as long as the officer wasn’t profiling and didn’t detain the person longer than 15 minutes.
“We want to avoid innocent or not so innocent people being killed,” he said and talked about some citizens sleeping on floors with their children in order to be safe at night.
“It’s just not right,” he added and gave a run down of the businesses that have fallen victim to robberies.
He said the city had some suspects but no real descriptions of the perpetrators of the crimes.
He made some suggestions just in case the unthinkable were to happen. Valley said that business owners should immediately separate all employees that are witnesses in a hold-up and not let them communicate with each other. He said witnesses at crime scenes usually adopt the description of the “strongest person” in the group.
He added that the Helena-West Helena Police Department believed that the same suspect pulled off the August Moon and Marty Mart robberies and the other robberies were the product of a group of individuals – black males under the age of 25.
Valley warned business owners to be suspicious of customers who take an unusually lengthy amount of time to make small purchases and detailed some recent suspicious activity reported to police.
The H-WHPD is currently placing officers around the city as surveillance to thwart any would-be robbers.
Valley said that reports of officers carrying high-powered weapons and night vision goggles were a stretch but did say that officers were trained to kill.
“Police officers are trained to shoot and typically trained to kill. They are trained to shoot at body mass,” explained Valley.
“Our goal is to capture the wrong doers and make our citizens safe,” he said and asked that the public be the eyes and ears of the department.
“If you see anything suspicious, call us,” said Valley.