HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – As more eyes are on police departments across the country, Hot Springs Police is laying out their five-year plan to create change in the community.
Using input from officers of all ranks, civilian employees and the community Chief Chris Chapmond developed a strategic plan that puts the focus on trust and legitimacy.
“We’re committed and dedicated to this community and building relationships.”
Some of those start right next door at Jackson House, a non-profit that serves people in need.
“I know a lot of the officers we’ve had them come here. I think they have worked very hard to try and cross that boundary and give trust and put trust back,” Jackson House Executive Director Janie Smith said.
Chapmond said he is also committed to creating a department that represents the community it serves. That means hiring more diverse officers.
Omar Cervantes is one of nine Hispanic officers within the department. He said he’s already seen the impact they make in the community.
“They have issues, they have problems and they don’t know how or who to go to.” “When they see you walk in you can actually see that relief like okay, I’ll be able to communicate,” Cervantes said.
From the serving side of policing to protecting, Smith has seen a lack of trust with some of her clients and police.
“They’ve done things that were against the law well sure they don’t trust them,” Smith said.
Another focus of the plan is policy and oversight. Chapmond said they created a review committee representing all ranks and civilians to identify, review and compare the policies like use of force.
“If there’s a new policy or new way of doing things out here that makes us better as a profession or organization then we’re going to do it,” Chapmond said.
Taking it a step further, they will post those regulations on the cities website.
“The most important thing with policies and procedures is be transparent,” Chapmond said.
“I think that is a great form of communication,” Smith said.
Overall, Chapmond said he hopes the plan brings back a sense of safety for the department.
“That’s important for people to see that there’s a heart behind the badge so to speak,” Chapmond said.
Other goals include officer wellness and utilizing social media. The entire plan is posted on the city’s website HERE.