I will continue to do everything within my power to ensure our law enforce- ment officers have the resources they need to effectively do their job.” Rapert said the

Former U.S. District Attorney Cody Hiland is a proponent of a bill intended to limit the scope of parole.

Back the Blue Move- ment is significant for many reasons. “I have had several family members and close friends who have served and continue to serve in law enforcement,” he said. “Te public often takes the daily sacrifice that these

officers and their families make for granted. With all the un- necessary and negative actions taken in some parts of our country to ‘defund the police,’ I am proud of our Arkansas legislature, our governor and the vast majority of Arkansas citizens raising our voices to ensure that all our law enforce- ment officers know we appreciate them and ‘Back the Blue.’ Te bills that our caucus has put forward show that we mean what we say.” SB300, To Prohibit Parole for a Person Convicted of the Offense of Possession of a Firearm by Certain Persons An- other, is another important bill that is part of this. Sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Dismang and backed by former U.S. Dis- trict Attorney Cody Hiland, the bill is intended to limit the scope of parole and prohibit parole in situations of repeat felony offenders for felony possession of a firearm. Arkansas currently suffers from a high rate of violent crimes, many of which Hiland has found to involve repeat felony possession offenders. When asked to expand upon his position on this bill Hiland stated: “As United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkan- sas, I was proud to work with our local and state law enforce-


ment partners to use our federal statutes to remove violent, repeat criminals from our communities,” Hiland said. “Vio- lent, repeat offenders must be confronted and held account- able. Te truth is, no free nation ever willed itself from poverty to prosperity by being soft on crime and failing to uphold the rule of law. Te ultimate success of education, infrastructure, and economic development is absolutely linked to successful enforcement of the rule of law. As we have seen in far too many cities in this nation, if allowed to continue unchecked, crime is an oppression that smothers civilization and the re- sulting quality of life for our people. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the tangible financial costs and the intangible, but very real, costs to freedom that crime has on individuals and businesses in our community.” Hiland continued: “It’s why I’m working with the Arkansas

Sheriff’s Association and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Associa- tion to significantly strengthen existing penalties by eliminat- ing parole for violent, repeat felons who are caught carrying weapons. If the legislation is successful, it will give local and state law enforcement and prosecutors a critical tool similar to that used at the federal level to keep our communities safe by removing those who would do us harm from the streets.”

Conclusion Members of Arkansas’ law enforcement community have

expressed support for this Task Force throughout its fruition and are confident it has provided beneficial insight on how to improve the profession. Arkansas Sheriff’s Association Execu- tive Director Scott Bradley, who formerly served as Van Buren County sheriff, believes one of the key benefits of the Task Force is that it granted “a good opportunity to take a hard look at ourselves and how we can improve.” He said he and other members of law enforcement value establishing and main- taining the trust of the community. Furthermore, Task Force members agree that while the topics of discussion during their meetings had the potential to be divisive, dialogue remained respectful and fruitful because each member was committed to the ultimate goal of making Arkansas better. As such, the Task Force was indeed as dynamic and instrumental as the Governor intended, as many of the recommendations made have become action items for the 93rd General Assembly and sparked the Back the Blue Movement. As such, Arkansas is at the forefront of progress. COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2021 31

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