Rural Arkansas towns struggle to fight increasing crime

JERICHO, Ark. -- Someone sent Chief Roy Hill a picture recently showing two people threatening police by holding guns and saying they won’t stand down. The image made the Jericho police chief nervous because he knew he’s outnumbered in rural Crittenden County.

“We only have three officers helping us patrol this town, a small town," the Jericho Police Chief said.

Jericho has a population of around 100 people and all the officers are part time. The police department’s budget is only $50,000.

Seven miles away in Turrell, Arkansas, they’re also feeling the heat.

“It's almost like an every day thing: shootings, drive-by shootings, shooting at people’s trailers and houses up there,” Turrell Chief Perry Jennings said.

According to Jennings, crime this year has increased in his town of around 600 people.

In fact, both Turrell and nearby Earle have had homicides in 2018.

“If Memphis gets hot on them, they push them across the bridge. If West Memphis get hot on them, that pushes every body. With a small town, they know we don’t have resources to fight this crime here," Hill said.

The chiefs said the Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department has helped lead the big investigations, but it’s not enough to handle the day to day. Both are banking on investments in technology and manpower.

“Hopefully I’ll get Skycop cameras on certain streets," Jennings said.

“Last Thursday city council approved us to hire two additional officers," Hill said. “That’s going to put a lot of strain on the town. I mean a lot. It wasn’t in the budget. We gotta crunch the numbers to make it happen because we need it for the safety of this community."

He just hopes they can find the funding to do it.