In January 2017, I took office as Sheriff of Independence County. I made a promise to the citizens to improve the working relationship between all departments of Law Enforcement. I have accomplished that. In 2017 between all Law Enforcement agencies we were able to file over 400 felony cases in circuit court. That is the most in a single year that have been filed in some time.
In 2017 the Independence County Sheriff’s Department changed to a practical working uniform. With this new look we also were able to get donations to change the striping on our units to give them a new look. We were able to restructure the Independence County Sheriff’s Department. We were able to restart our narcotics unit. Our narcotics unit has been involved in several drug investigations, controlled buys, and drug busts. Our Criminal Investigation Unit has been able to solve several crimes and make arrests on them.
The patrol division is made up of 16 deputies that patrol the roads of Independence County. We have four deputies on each shift. We work with a minimum of three at a time on duty.
We have partnered with the Law Enforcement Community Relations Team to provide active shooter training and ladies self defense classes to our citizens. This is a good program and urge anyone interested to find a class and attend it.
In March of 2017, we were able to obtain funding for Narcan and Trauma packs for all deputies. We provided training to all deputies and got the equipment issued. We have been able to save lives with the issuance of the equipment. Deputies have used both the Narcan and supplies that were inside the Trauma packs to save lives.
In October of 2017, the Independence County Sheriff’s Department along with No Limits Therapy partnered with Stephanie Cooper to offer ALERT (Autism Law Enforcement Response Training) for all local law enforcement officers. This training gave us hands on experience on how to handle people with Autism. All officers were given a kit to carry with them to assist in handling people with Autism.
In 2018 we have had some staffing problems at our jail. We have had to stop holding female inmates but we are getting our staffing numbers back up and working on bringing back female inmates.
In 2018 we were able to get new side arms for our deputies. We changed to the Glock 17 gen. 5. With the change to the new guns, we have been able to go from shooting once a year to more firearms training for deputies and shooting a minimum of 4 times a year. We were also able to get donations from local businesses to build more targets to use.
With the hard work and dedication of our staff, we are working very hard to keep all our citizens safe. We strive to provide the best law enforcement available to our residents of Independence County. We will continue to work hard for the citizens of Independence County.
The Independence County Sheriff’s Department is charged with protecting and serving all people without regard for the person’s race, color,creed, national origin, sexual orientation, ancestry, or disabilities. The coronavirus (COVID-19) issue has caused many debates among people about the best way to handle this threat to our health, safety, and welfare.
Having had the opportunity to carefully review the Governor’s executive order and the opportunity to speak directly to the Governor about the issues, I want to address the citizens of Independence County. As Sheriff, I feel that the citizens and visitors of Independence County know when they should and should not wear a mask and whether they fall within one of the several exemptions of the face covering mandate.
The response of the Independence County Sheriff’s Department for any call for service is always determined based on urgency, severity and the risk to citizens and we will direct our resources to calls based upon those criteria and public safety. All Law Enforcement Agencies in America today struggle with the challenge of sufficient manpower in the face of dramatic increases in violent and non-violent crimes. It’s a must that we prioritize the handling of all calls based on urgency and public safety.
I would like to remind our citizens that our 911 system can quickly get overloaded, so refrain from using 911 to report any non-emergency issues. Please keep in mind that reporting a mask concern does not constitute an emergency.
Independence County will not arrest, detain, or cite citizens for failure to comply with a mask mandate. It will be our practice to utilize verbal warnings to address a violation. A private business maintains its ability to make, or not make, rules in their own establishment, and to ask for the assistance of law enforcement to remove patrons who do not comply with store rules. The Sheriff's Department will respond to complaint calls where a person has been asked by a local business owner to comply with the mask directive or leave the premises, but then refuses to leave. This would constitute a criminal trespass matter that is a separate and distinct violation under the law.
As Sheriff, my personal opinions have no bearing on the decisions that are made in these situations. The Sheriff's Department does not make or pass laws, and we must rely on the courts to interpret the meaning of the language and provisions of the respective constitutions.
Persons having questions or concerns about the health directive, or non-compliance of the Governor's Executive Order, should contact the Arkansas Department of Health at (501) 661-2000.
Sheriff Shawn Stephens
In regards to a recorded incident that occurred within the Independence County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction; the incident is under an internal investigation to address any violations or wrongdoings by the deputy on scene. At this time, the deputy’s name will not be released. Once the investigation is complete further information will be provided.
Level 4 Sex Offender
***LEVEL 4 SEX OFFENDER NOTICE***
CHRISTOPHER BARRO is a Level 4 Sex Offender, who resides in the 100 Block of Quentin Road in Batesville, Arkansas.
• The Independence County Sheriff’s Department is releasing the attached information to pursuant Act 1740 and 1743 of 2001 and guidelines provided by the Sex Offender Assessment Committee established by that law.
• The individual who appears has been convicted of an offense that requires registration with the Arkansas Crime Information Center. This individual is not wanted by law enforcement authorities at this time. No action on your part is required other than the type of alertness and caution that increases the safety of individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities. Should you observe suspicious behavior on the part of the individuals, do not take action on your own, but immediately notify law enforcement.
• This notification is not intended to cause alarm. Nor, may you use this information to intimidate or harass the person identified. Harassment of any individual is against the law. If you feel you need further information about the dynamics of sex offending, you may contact the Arkansas Commission on Child Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence, 4301 W. Markham, Slot 606, Little Rock Arkansas, 72205.
The Independence County Sheriff’s Department and Detention Facility will be participating in partial furloughs due to a shortfall of incomes to the county government. The furloughs were recommended by the County Judge, as to not lose positions in the near future by the Quorum Court cutting budgets and positions. With the furloughs, patrol will be covered by Patrol Deputies, Investigators, Warrants/Civil Process Officers, and Administration. The citizens of this county will be protected as normal;however, other operations have ceased until further notice. These operations include: walk-in reports at the S.O., Warrants, Civil Process, non-emergent investigations, VIN verification's. Telephone calls to the Sheriff’s Department will be answered, but if there is not an answer call back as we have reduced staff in the office or contact dispatch. In emergency, DIAL 911. If you need to speak with a Deputy you will need to contact dispatch at 870-698-2436. If you have other questions or concerns regarding an incident, case, or any other non-emergent inquiry you can email the department at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not have access to an email, please contact dispatch and request to speak with a deputy.
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