Bella Vista To Establish Local Court

BELLA VISTA (KFSM) -- A new state law will give the city of Bella Vista its own district court.

This means people won't have to drive to Bentonville District Court for misdemeanor crimes, traffic and code violations.

Bella Vista has a cost sharing system with Bentonville but the expenses are expected to more than double and for that price, Bella Vista staff attorney Jason Kelley said they can operate their own court.

“We knew that we could probably rent a facility, build it out, equip it, have a court clerk and do that and save money long term because we don't think our operation expenses will be $15,000 a month,” he said.

Bella Vista has around 125 cases that go to court every month. So that means both the officer and the offender have to drive to Bentonville for court.

Bella Vista Police Chief Ken Farmer said that means when they have trials for these cases it almost empties the city of uniformed police officers.

“It's not a good thing because number one the people don't get the service that they deserve. It also leaves the remaining officers without adequate backup if we have a serious incident while they are gone,” he said.

Farmer said right now if you get a minor fine or citation that you want to pay, those fines can only be accepted in the city where the court is located.

“When we get our own court we will be able to keep the officers on the street until just minutes before they are needed to testify. So that will help us keep staffed better and serve our citizens better,” he said.

Bella Vista is looking to lease space near existing city offices. They hope to make the transition and start hearing cases in Bella Vista by the end of the year.