From patrolling morning rush hour to responding to a domestic call late at night, we ask a great deal from our men and women in law enforcement. We cannot thank them enough for their selfless service.
The Governor issued a proclamation declaring May 15-May 21 as National Police Week. Sunday, May 15 is designated as Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The proclamation directs that the state flag of Arkansas be flown at half-staff on Sunday as an expression of public sorrow.
There are an estimated 7,000 officers are protecting and serving 3 million Arkansans. We recognize that a single week is not a sufficient amount of time to honor their continually sacrifices. We hope the legislation enacted in the most recent session helps to support them and their families throughout the year.
In the most recent fiscal session, we passed an appropriation providing a one-time stipend of $5,000 to full-time certified city and county law enforcement officers, as well as probation and parole officers. It also provided for a $2,000 one-time stipend for state troopers.
We also increased the budget for Arkansas State Police by $7.4 million increase to assist in raising the salaries for state troopers.
In the 2021 Regular Session, we passed Act 714, which requires a city of first-class to establish a city police department and provide the department with proper resources.
We also addressed the mental health of our officers by passing Act 747. This bill states law enforcement agencies must assist a law enforcement officer involved in a critical incident in obtaining services that may help the officer recover from psychological effects.
We passed legislation that was recommended by the Governor’s Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas. Act 218 limits a law-enforcement agency to two part-time officers for every full-time officer. The task force report noted that the higher ratio of full-time officers would strengthen in-house training and enhance stability.
And we passed legislation making sure K-9 units get the necessary medical services they need if injured in the line of duty with Act 790 titled Gabo’s Law.
We will continue to explore ways to support our law enforcement. We encourage Arkansans to take this week as an opportunity to say thank you and show your appreciation to those who keep your communities safe.