FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — Unfilled vacancies in Fort Smith’s police department have freed up about $1.4 million that will be used to buy new vehicles and equipment, officials said.
The money for the purchases is coming from the department’s personnel budget, which was reduced because of about 20 unfilled vacancies this year. Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken says the vacancies occurred because of attrition and because space is limited at the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.
Fort Smith is Arkansas’ second-largest city, with about 88,000 residents. The city’s police chief said that the department was working on developing new recruitment tactics to fill vacancies in the department, which has a total of 164 officer positions, according to city documents.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , the money from the vacancies will pay for nine police patrol vehicles that are equipped with mobile data terminals and two-way radios at a cost of more than $486,000. Other divisions will also receive new vehicles, and the money will also pay for 60 portable radios and a new security fence at the police station.
The department said it would also purchase a new, $155,000 driving simulator that will be used to improve and maintain driving skills for both uniformed and non-uniformed employees. The city said the simulator will save on fuel and wear and tear on department vehicles.