PHILLIPS CO., Ark. — A major crime fighting tool unveiled Thursday in Phillips County, Arkansas, where the public gets its first look at a multi-agency and multi-million-dollar justice complex.
Thursday was open house at the new Phillips County Justice Complex, a chance for the public to see what their votes and their tax dollars will do to reduce crime in the community.
Phillips County Judge Clark Hall says the complex brings the Phillips County Sheriff and Helena-West Helena Police under one roof.
Where a John Deere dealership once stood, there will also be probation and parole offices and the county’s Office of Emergency Management. A short walk away on the 15-acre site is the new Phillips County Detention Center.
In all, it is a $7.5 million project the public voted in favor of two years ago in a special election.
“They recognized the need for us to have a new Detention Center, and they also recognized that we need to be together if we’re going to save our community and get away from the reputation of crime,” said Hall.
The complex features an upgraded evidence room, a special garage to process vehicles for evidence, and even a new morgue so the county no longer has to use the facilities at the local hospital.
The location on MLK Drive will maximize crime fighting resources in the time it takes to just walk across the hall.
“It just shows a sense of network where we can kind of communicate,” Phillips County Sheriff Neal Byrd said. “Everybody’s right there in same area together, working out of the same building.”
Helena-West Helena Police Chief James Mayfield has only had the job since February 2 but already envisions how the facility will streamline law enforcement in a county that’s tired of too much crime.
“If we bring someone up, we got the county jail right here. We just walk them over to the county and finish our paperwork,” Mayfield said. “It’s all convenience for us, as well, as we can better serve the community.”
A tax increase will bring in approximately $1.4 million a year to retire the bond and keep enough reserve funds to help with operation of the Detention Center if needed.