Top officers awarded
Police promote six
Pea Ridge emergency personnel — police and firefighters — each held their annual Christmas dinners Saturday, Dec. 1, after the Christmas parade. Officers of the year were recognized in two separate dinners.
The Fire Department held its dinner in the community room of the Fire Station. Michael Culotta was named Responder of the Year; Chris Perez was named Firefighter of the Year, according to Fire Chief Jamie Baggett.
The Police Department held its dinner in fellowship hall at First Baptist Church. Brian Stamps was named Officer of the year, according to Capt. Chris Olson, interim police chief.
In addition to honoring Stamps as Officer of the Year, there were six promotions made in the ranks of the police, Olson said.
Olson said the promotions were needed in “restructuring the department.” Olson was named interim chief by Mayor Jackie Crabtree effective Dec. 1, after the resignation of former Chief Ryan Walker.
Olson said there are 15 full-time officers and one part-time officer on the department. Of those, seven are supervisors. There are two captains, two lieutenants, three sergeants.
“They each have to fill a lot of roles in the department,” Olson said, explaining that in a small police department, each officer has to multi-task and administrators may still be called upon to work in patrol or CID, when needed.
“Contrary to popular belief, we could use more officers. We’re not hiring, we will use what we have,” he said. He also said the promotions do not involve salary increases.
Officers promoted were: Lt. Eric Lyle to captain; Sgt. Michael
Lisenbee to lieutenant; Sgt. John Langham (SRO) to lieutenant; officer Lynn Hahn was named sergeant in patrol but will eventually be a sergeant in Criminal Investigation Division; and both officers Mike Lira and Rick Helmer were named officer first class.
Sgt. Langham and officers Lira and Helmer are school resource officers. Olson said there is additional training and education involved in becoming an SRO and that justified the promotions. He said officer first class is a rank up, but not a supervisory rank.
Mayor Jackie Crabtree said the jobs performed in a police department depend on rank and ranks are necessary when dealing with other entities and agencies.
Olson said there is a supervisor on call for every shift.
“We have to keep going. Our job never stops,” Olson said. “Part of doing that job is rank and structure.”
“A lot of people don’t understand rank and structure,” Crabtree said. “It’s so important on how they do their job.”
Crabtree said he has not advertised for a police chief, nor decided whether he will advertise although he has received a resume from an applicant. He said he will decide after the first of the year about whether to advertise the position or hire from within the department.