Hughes, Ark. mayor shuts down police department due to personnel problems

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HUGHES, Ark. —  The city of Hughes will be without a police force until further notice due to personnel issues within the department.

On Wednesday, Mayor Lincoln Barnett sent a letter to WREG announcing that the Hughes Police Department would be closed until further notice. The release didn’t go into much details, except to say that the closure was due to “an insufficient number of fully certified officers.”

WREG’s Melissa Moon sat down with Mayor Barnett on Thursday and discovered there’s more to the story.

Barnett said after he took office he realized that there were some inconsistencies in the payroll when it came to police officers. He said some part-time officers were getting full-time and even overtime pay. He said he immediately began asking questions and even asked for personnel files, but that the department refused to hand them over.

The mayor even suggested that some officers were seen removing those requested files from the building.

He said that he doesn’t know where those files are and without them he has no way of knowing which officers are truly certified. He decided to shut down the department to make sure they are operating within law enforcement guidelines.

Until the department can reopen, the St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department has taken over the city’s 911 calls. They could soon also be responsible for patrolling the area as well.

A compliance review has been scheduled for Feb. 6, 2019.

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