Newly Hired Arkansas Police Chiefs Learn From Each Other

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- After just two months on the new job, a police chief in a northeast Arkansas community is still learning the ropes.

On Thursday (June 8), Ollie Collins, police chief of Osceola, Arkansas job shadowed fellow newly hired Fort Smith Police Chief Nathaniel Clark.

After weeks of conversations over the phone, the two chiefs met for the first time on Thursday.

Both are the face of change being found in local police departments across the country. Like Clark, Collins is the first African-American chief of his department in Osceola, a small town about an hour north of Memphis.

"It's not really anything that stands out to me," said Collins on his new job. "Maybe it does in the community, but to me, it's being in this position and being able to help my own town."

Collins is a life-long resident of Osceola, and has spent the last 18 years on the police force.

During their meeting in Fort Smith, both men touched on training practices and talked leadership skills.

Collins was introduced to equipment and technology used every day in Fort Smith, and received a thorough tour of the department by Clark.

"We spent a lot of time talking about building relationships," Clark said. "Some of the things that we're doing in order to build a relationship with the community."

Back home in Osceola, Collins runs a 23 man department, which is a fraction of the size of the force at the Fort Smith Police Department.

But despite the difference in population and staff sizes, Clark said he also learned a great deal.

"Just because we are a larger city, doesn't mean we can't learn from the chiefs in our smaller communities, because we can," Clark said. "When we start talking and sharing ideas, we're both learning from one another."

Clark, who has made headlines for his attempts to create a more diverse Fort Smith Police Department.

He said he plans to go to Osceola to see how Chief Collins' operates his department.

"Being here and the things I've seen since I've been shadowing him today," Collins said. "There's just so much more I can take back to my department and it can help build us up and make it a better place for Osceola."