Bella Vista PD es­tab­lishes pa­trol lieu­tenant po­si­tion

The Weekly Vista - - News - KEITH BRYANT kbryant@nwadg.com

The Bella Vista Po­lice Depart­ment has added a new lieu­tenant po­si­tion and pro­moted for­mer sergeant Scott Vanatta to fill the spot.

Vanatta, who has been with the depart­ment 10 years and now oc­cu­pies the pa­trol lieu­tenant po­si­tion, said that his over­all goal is en­sur­ing the depart­ment’s pa­trol divi­sion func­tions smoothly.

“Any­thing pa­trol re­lated comes to me,” he said.

Vanatta said he is in charge of the uni­form divi­sion, train­ing, staffing, sched­ul­ing, struc­ture and su­per­vi­sion.

It’s a good po­si­tion, he said, be­cause it al­lows him to take on more re­spon­si­bil­ity with­out giv­ing up field work. He spends roughly half his time in the of­fice and the other half around the town su­per­vis­ing of­fi­cers. More­over, he said, he’s go­ing to swing from shift to shift, en­sur­ing he’ll work with of­fi­cers on each of the depart­ment’s three shifts.

Chief James Graves said he was mak­ing this change to the depart­ment’s struc­ture to en­sure the po­lice can op­er­ate more in line with fed­eral and state guide­lines. A com­mon is­sue with smaller de­part­ments, he said, is lim­ited ad­min­is­tra­tion and su­per­vi­sion.

“My prior pa­trol lieu­tenant was so bogged down with ad­min­is­tra­tive func­tions … there wasn’t re­ally time for him to be on pa­trol.”

That pa­trol lieu­tenant, Ryan Har­mon, has been shifted to an ad­min­is­tra­tive lieu­tenant po­si­tion, where he will over­see dis­patch, the prop­erty clerk and other ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties.

Graves said that it’s im­por­tant to be able to get a pa­trol lieu­tenant in the field be­cause it al­lows closer su­per­vi­sion of of­fi­cers. A lack of su­per­vi­sion, he said, is one of the most fre­quently-cited is­sues when po­lice de­part­ments face lit­i­ga­tion, along with a lack of train­ing.

This does not mean there are prob­lems with how of­fi­cers are op­er­at­ing, he said, but di­rect over­sight can pre­vent is­sues and al­low the depart­ment to bet­ter un­der­stand what’s go­ing on with pa­trol and how to best sup­port the uni­form divi­sion’s ef­forts.

Be­tween Lieu­tenants Vanatta, Har­mon and Barb Shrum, who pre­sides over the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion divi­sion, he said, the depart­ment also has more cov­er­age for these su­per­vi­sory roles. Ul­ti­mately, he said, he wants to see ev­ery­one cross-trained in these roles, en­sur­ing that if some­one is ab­sent for any rea­son, oth­ers can pick up their du­ties. This, he said, makes the depart­ment a much stronger or­ga­ni­za­tion with fewer po­ten­tial fail­ure points.

Vanatta was cho­sen through an open pro­mo­tion process, Graves said. It was a dif­fi­cult choice, he said, with four in­ter­nal ap­pli­ca­tions for the po­si­tion and eight or nine from out­side the depart­ment. He nar­rowed it down to four can­di­dates, he said, be­fore mak­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion.

“I just wanted to make sure I had the best per­son for the job,” he said. “Vanatta just came out on top.”

Vanatta said he ap­pre­ci­ates the pro­mo­tion and he’s glad to know that chief Graves had enough faith in him to give him this level of re­spon­si­bil­ity. He’s also grate­ful, he said, for the sergeants who back him up in this role.

“It’s a lot more work­ing com­po­nents I have to over­see,” he said. “I don’t do it all alone, so it’s not over­whelm­ing … It’s a lot, but we get it done.”

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