Se­nior Cen­ter hosts ‘Cof­fee With A Cop’

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­san Hol­land shol­land@nwadg.com

GRAVETTE — The Billy V. Hall Se­nior Ac­tiv­ity Cen­ter and the Ben­ton County SALT (Se­niors and Law En­force­ment To­gether) co-hosted a Cof­fee With a Cop re­cep­tion at the cen­ter Sept. 13. The Ben­ton County SALT Coun­cil is a vol­un­teer group with the goal of re­duc­ing crime against se­nior cit­i­zens by pro­vid­ing ed­u­ca­tion and in­ter­ac­tion with law en­force­ment.

Ken Farmer of Bella Vista, SALT Coun­cil chair­man, wel­comed guests and gave an over­view of up­com­ing SALT events. He said the coun­cil tries to spon­sor an event in the county each month and this was one of a se­ries of such cof­fees. He in­vited those present to at­tend a Se­nior Safety Academy sched­uled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tues­day, Oct. 10, at the Bella Vista Lutheran Church.

Chuck Sk­aggs, Gravette chief of po­lice, spoke to the group and told some of the po­lice de­part­ment’s ac­tiv­i­ties. He said of­fi­cers took some youngsters to shop for Christ­mas gifts last year and they plan to re­peat that pro­gram this hol­i­day sea­son. He also told of com­mu­nity safety pa­trols be­ing con­ducted to help pre­vent home in­va­sions and rob­beries.

Sk­aggs said cam­eras have been in­stalled in all po­lice cars and he re­views the videos each Fri­day to en­sure of­fi­cers are fol­low­ing proper pro­ce­dures. He

said of­fi­cers have re­sponded to ap­prox­i­mately 2,600 calls so far this year and a new re­port­ing sys­tem helps track calls more ac­cu­rately.

Sk­aggs noted that Gravette is one of the fastest grow­ing small towns in the area and, as the po­lice de­part­ment is grow­ing too, the de­part­ment may soon need its own dis­patch sys­tem. He re­ported the de­part­ment had re­cently started a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion divi­sion. He said, with the de­part­ment’s coverage area ex­pand­ing to­ward the east, he hoped to see a fire and emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices sta­tion built east of town to help de­crease re­sponse time to EMS calls.

Cit­i­zens brought up sev­eral in­stances of scams they had ex­pe­ri­enced, and Sk­aggs cau­tioned them to avoid the in­creas­ing cases of mail fraud and fraud against the el­derly. He also warned them about the dan­gers of us­ing cell phones while driv­ing. He urged those present to call the po­lice de­part­ment with any ques­tions they might have. The de­part­ment’s non­emer­gency tele­phone num­ber is 479-787-6948.

Sk­aggs re­ported that in 2009 Ar­kan­sas was first in the na­tion for pre­scrip­tion drug abuse and the state has now dropped out of the top 15. He re­minded his lis­ten­ers that there is a drug take­back box in front of the po­lice sta­tion where ex­pired and un­wanted drugs may be dis­carded. He said the de­part­ment picked up 142 pounds of pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion from the drug take­back box last year and sent them off to be de­stroyed.

Free cof­fee and dough­nuts were served at the event.

Photo by Su­san Hol­land

Chuck Sk­aggs, Gravette chief of po­lice, speaks to the crowd at the “Cof­fee With A Cop” ses­sion Sept. 13, at the Billy V. Hall Se­nior Ac­tiv­ity Cen­ter.

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