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AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S HOLLENBECK


hours of training through an online training academy, and all of them have exceeded that, Hollenbeck said. Tey learn about the law, search and seizure tactics, officer survival, com- munity awareness and other topics. Te jail also has a new computer system, technology that


provides an immediate ID for fingerprints, and an inmate tracking system called Guardian RFID that the AAC and ASA worked to select and provide to all county sheriffs who are members of the AAC Risk Management Fund. “We worked really hard to get the Guardian interface,” Hol- lenbeck said. “It allows you to physically and electronically track the movement of inmates in and out of jail.” Hollenbeck has also hired an additional 20 deputies to


work at the detention center. Previous staff- ing levels were danger- ously low, he said. All of that costs


money, of course, and Hollenbeck said pay- ing for the improve- ments has been a challenge, even with the support and assis- tance of the Sebastian County Quorum Court and the county judge. A county-wide sales tax for public safety improvements has helped, but Hol-


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year, he said. Initially the new ethics policies resulted in an increase in infractions as deputies got used to the higher standards, Hol- lenbeck said, but then the number of issues began to decrease. “At first we went through some growing pains,” he said.


“At first we went through some growing pains. We did deal with some issues, some discipline and corrective measures.


But if you don’t seek a certain amount of posi- tive change, you’re going to be stagnant. We will never be perfect, we know that. We all make mistakes, me included. Then you deal with it, address it, and try to learn from it.”


lenbeck said holding on to the deputies he’s hired is difficult because their salaries — which start at just over $24,000 a year — are lower than other law enforcement agencies. “When you have a deputy who’s not making enough to sup-


port a family, of course he or she is going to be looking for work elsewhere,” Hollenbeck said. “We’re working very hard to get our detention deputies better pay so we can keep that institutional knowledge within our walls.” Improving the department’s image in the community has also been a priority, Hollenbeck said. Te training has helped, and so has changing the design of the department’s patrol cars and deputies’ uniforms. “Tey were wearing combat [fatigues] for patrol,” Hollen- beck said. “We’re not at war with our citizens. We serve them.” Hollenbeck also established an ethics and professional stan-


dards commission in the sheriff’s department, and every dep- uty must complete a mandatory ethics course each year. “I don’t know if we had any more ethical problems than any other sheriff’s department, but law enforcement is about public trust,” he said. Deputies need regular training in ethics just like they have to requalify in firearms proficiency each


“We did deal with some issues, some discipline and corrective measures. But if you don’t seek a certain amount of positive change, you’re going to be stagnant. We will never be perfect, we know that. We all make mistakes, me included. Ten you deal with it, address it, and try to learn from it.” Hollenbeck himself faced perhaps the ultimate ethical chal- lenge earlier this year when his adult son was arrested on drug charges. Hollenbeck released a public statement saying that he had authorized the investigation himself and that his son would “answer for his crime just as any other per- son would.” “It was very difficult for our family,” said Hollenbeck, who has four other children. “But it also proved one thing — not one family in this country has not been negatively affected by drugs,” he said. Hollenbeck said he


— Bill Hollenbeck Sebastian County Sheriff


also used that experi- ence to drive home the lesson to deputies that


not everyone who commits a crime is a bad person. “I’ve been saying to detention deputies and patrol officers that this is a bad moment in their life, they’re making a bad choice, but that doesn’t define who they are,” he said. In 2015, Hollenbeck will continue to work through the


AAC and the ASA to push for statewide action on the jail overcrowding issue. “We’re going to be working hard on that this year through- out the session, communicating with legislators on finding some solution for this,” he said. A $3 million review of the system and options for building


a new prison is in the works, and Department of Corrections officials have said they plan to ask legislators for $100 million to build a 1,000-bed facility. Te Arkansas Sheriff’s Associa- tion has also floated an idea to legislatively cap the number of state inmates allowed in county jails at 1,600 — about 1,000 fewer than the current number. “We’ve got to fund this properly,” Hollenbeck said. “I’m all about not spending wastefully, but public safety is one of the highest priorities that government should be involved in.”


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