City Director Proposes Policy To Require Two Officers Per Patrol Vehicle

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)- In efforts to keep officers safe, Houston, Baltimore, and New Orleans and other are implementing new policies which require two officers to respond to each call.

During this week's Board of Directors meeting, city director George Catsavis proposed the idea of placing two officers in each Fort Smith patrol vehicle.

"Double the shifts; instead of one officer, have two officers per car per shift," Catsavis said.

Fort Smith Police have 8-9 officers patrolling the city during each shift. With the proposed policy, the number of patrol vehicles would have to be cut in half.

"Considering man power, if you double those officers up, you're cutting it to four or five police cars in the entire city," Fort Smith Police Sgt. Daniel Grubbs said. "You look just at the sheer size and geographical mileage and square mileage of our city, that would just would not benefit the citizens to do that."

Sgt. Grubbs said he does think it is a good idea if they had the man power.

"If you're driving and having to pay attention to all of the traffic, and operate a vehicle safely, it is just great to have that extra set of eyes," Sgt. Grubbs said. "You've got immediate backup in case you get into something requiring a backup officer."

In 2015, a budget cut forced the Fort Smith Police Department to reduce staff positions, but Catsavis said he thinks it's time the city and the board found a solution to this.

"When the revenues don't come in as projected, you have to cut back in places," Catsavis said. "The norm for the city is that the police and fire get cut first, and to me, that's the wrong direction to go. I think now, we need our police now more than ever."

Catsavis said the public is welcome to voice their opinion on this proposed police at the city board meeting on Tuesday, July 26.