Ozarks Community Swears in First Police Chief

By Grant Sloan | gsloan@kolr10.com

Published 05/07 2014 06:03PM

Updated 05/07 2014 06:50PM

OAK GROVE, Ark. -- A small community in the Ozarks takes the law into its own hands, with the swearing in of its first Police Chief. 

Oak Grove, Arkansas is five months into a one year "trial period" that many hope will make the town safer, while potentially drawing in new businesses.

"Had a lot of people from the city itself come to us for some kind of help," says Mayor Josh Peden.

The recently elected Mayor says because Oak Grove sets in such a large county, Carroll County, it’s difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to have a constant presence there.

After talking with both State and Federal Governments, Peden says the City swore in, now Chief, Jason Hunt back in January.

"Ran K-9, worked narcotics, CID,.pretty much i worked all the way through the department," Hunt listed off while talking about his time as a Sheriff Deputy. "If you get in and you love it, it becomes you life" says Hunt.

Both the Mayor and the new Chief both say the department wouldn’t be where it is currently, had it not been for donations from surrounding communities. 

"Materials, supplies, anything that we have needed people have stepped in, pitching in and donated," says Mayor Peden.

Crown Victoria police cruisers have been donated by the Berryville and Green Forrest Police Departments, and everything, from the paint to the lights on the cars, has either been donated or sold to the city for a discounted price.

The mayor says the city has also worked out holding agreements with the county jail. He says residents are still being told to call 911 however if they need assistance.

"It's nice to have a little town that can have some protection," says business owner and glass blower Kay Jones, "And you know when you call it's right here, right now." 

Jones says she already called the new Chief, when care were sitting outside of the "Hillbilly Glass Shack," late at night.

Some residents are concerned after the one year "trial period," city revenues may be unable to sustain the department, but Jones says she's hopeful that won't be the case.

"We have our store in town which is really helpful, to draw in revenue," says Jones. "Hopefully business will keep picking up and I'll be able to support also."

"Hopefully some more businesses come into town," says Mayor Peden. "We're trying to clean the town up and make it a nice place to live, make it a safe place to live."

Mayor Peden says the town is also exploring grant money option from the state, to eventually help fund a 24-hour police department.

He says so far, narcotics have already been pulled of the street thanks to Hunt. Two months ago, Mayor Peden says the City swore it in a reserve officer.

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