Bear Creek working to improve police safety

Bear Creek Police Chief Eddie Collins tells the town council that additional measures of safety are needed. Shown are council members Eric Loden, left, and Eric Mills.

BEAR  CREEK -  Bear Creek Town Council members weighed options for better officer safety at a Saturday morning, April 20, meeting, after high speed pursuits of two different suspect vehicles days apart left one Bear Creek Police vehicle totaled and another in the shop damaged.
A 2008 Dodge Charger, with over 100,000 miles on it was totaled when it was struck by a suspect vehicle coming through the area from Russellville, town officials discussed.
Bear Creek Investigator Jason Williams was waiting to join the pursuit when his vehicle was struck from behind by the suspect vehicle, Mayor Rob Taylor said.
Due to the police department being down one unit, the town had to purchase a 2019 Ford Explorer with only about 23,000 miles already equipped with cages, lights and sirens.
“All we’re going to have to do is put our computer and our radio in it, then we will be in service,” Taylor said.
The cost of the vehicle is $27,360, with the town is taking from its police fund.  The vehicle is being purchased from Asia Motors of Chicago, town officials said.
The council voted to make the purchase during the meeting, with Tom Misner making the motion, seconded by  Eric Mills and all voting in favor.
Town Clerk Kay Wiginton explained the town was selling older town-owned vehicles and property that were no longer needed, with the proceeds going into the police fund.  For example, a boat purchased for $2,000 by a previous police chief to use for water patrols was recently sold for $12,500, Wiginton stated.  Also, a speed trailer was sold to a neighboring police department for $1,500, the clerk explained. Other older police vehicles are being sold as well, she said.  The new vehicle will be purchased with money from the police fund.
“We have plans in the future to replace (police units) as they get older.  We’re going to try not to have any high mileage patrol cars whatsoever,” Taylor explained.
However, the patrol car being totaled put those plans into higher gear, according to Taylor.
“Instead of being six months or so down the road,  it kind of put it on our doorstep,” he pointed out.
“Right now, other than the investigator truck, everything we have has well less than 50,000 miles on it,” the mayor added.  
The other patrol car damaged in a separate high speed chase--in which Bear Creek was directly involved--has been in the shop but was scheduled to have been repaired and back in service last week, town officials said.
During this incident, multiple attempts were allegedly made by a suspect to run down an officer, with a patrol vehicle being struck multiple times  by the suspect’s vehicle, town officials said.
“Those cars are the same as their bulletproof vests or their weapons.  They are a tool to be used by the police department in keeping the public safe,” Taylor pointed out.
“It was better to have ended (the chase) before it got into any traffic or caused any loss of life,” he added. “Everybody needs to go home every day. We want to keep everybody as safe as possible.”
The high speed chases in which Bear Creek was involved also focused on the need to make another investment - cameras for patrol cars, council members discussed at their meeting.
Each police vehicle will now be equipped with both front and rear cameras.
“We don’t have dash cameras. We have body cameras,” stressed Police Chief Eddie Collins. “To protect the town and protect the officer, we need them.”
“You guys need the protection,” stressed Misner. “I’d rather you guys have the most protection you can get.”
“Ultimately, that is going to protect us, too,” Taylor added.
“That will show anything going on in front of the vehicle in the event of a chase or a traffic stop,” added Taylor. “In the event something crazy happened, that is going to protect us, too.
The  rear cameras will be mounted on the inside of the patrol car and will show what is going on inside the car in the event of an incident, the mayor explained.
The town  council took action to purchase six sets-- six front and six rear cameras, for a total of 12 cameras at a cost of $299 per set for a total of $1,800, town council members agreed. Mills made the motion, with Misner seconding and all voting in favor.
Taylor discussed with council members that cameras  were also needed at Twin Forks Campgrounds and downtown.
“We’ve been researching these cameras, because I wanted cameras for the campgrounds, ball fields and park,” Collins informed council members.
The cameras had been priced through another company, but the costs were too high, at around $400 a month, according to Collins.
Eric Loden made the motion to look into the purchase of cameras for the town and ballfields, with Misner seconding the motion, and all voting in favor. Prices will be discussed as the town gets further into the process.

Collins shares
positive things
going on at the PD

After all of the discussion about high speed chases, Collins then  turned council members’ attention to some positive things going on at the police department.
“We used the drone the other night to help with the recovery of a fugitive who was escaped from work release,” Collins said, referring to an incident that occurred recently in Marion County.
“We didn’t actually find him with the drone, but we held him down until the dogs got there,” Collins said. The fugitive, he added, was lying under brush, but the dogs from the Department of Corrections assisted at the scene so the fugitive gave up, Collins added.
Two sets of spike strips have been given to the town by the National Deputies Association, which will go with other equipment recently purchased thanks to grant funding, such as trauma kits, rifle plate carriers and body armor for firefighters, Collins explained.



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