Helena-West Helena police chief running for sheriff in Oklahoma

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HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. -- Helena-West Helena Police Chief Virgil Green is running as a Democratic candidate for sheriff of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma.

He said he moved to Arkansas from Oklahoma City in 2015, but his wife and two children stayed behind. Since then, he's been commuting about seven hours to Oklahoma every other weekend.

During his time in Helena-West Helena, he's tried to reduce the city's rates of crime and corruption.

His department arrested two council members and charged them with abuse of power last month.

“It's no secret even with some of the elected officials here, it would be probably better for them if I wasn’t here,” he said Wednesday.

Green said he faces an uphill battle with a council that doesn’t always support him.

“We have a lot of men and women working a lot of hours for very little pay,” he said. “I’m advocating for better working conditions, better wages."

He said the city's outdated and rundown police department represented some of those problems.

Mayor Jay Hollowell said the building was retrofitted after Helena and West Helena merged in 2015.

“That building wasn’t built to be a police department. However, to go out and acquire a new facility is an expensive proposition. We don’t have a lot of revenue to be able to do that,” Hollowell said.

He said law enforcement gets about $2.5 million a year, more than 20 percent of the city’s budget.

He said he had hoped to see better results with Green's work.

“We bought 11 new police cars not long ago, paid for numerous equipment and training," Hollowell said. "He and his department haven’t been told 'no' very many times. But the disturbing thing is, our crime numbers aren’t improving.”

The primary takes place April 4. If he doesn’t win the primary, Green said he plans to stay.

But Hollowell said the city was considering all options, including finding a new police chief.

Green said he had about 18 years of experience as a chief in Oklahoma before coming to Arkansas.