By Martin Couch
Bryant Chief of Police Tony Coffman would like to bridge the communication gap between the citizens and his department.
“This is their police department and the badges we wear are the people’s and that’s first and foremost,” Coffman said. “The second thing is, we’re there for them and all they have to do is let us know and we will assist them in any way we can and help them out with their problems, but they have to let us know — we’re not mind-readers.”
Telephoning the police department is the easiest way for communication, but soon the department will have it’s own website and will be able to receive e-mails and put out valuable information to the citizens of Bryant.[more]
“That’s in the development stage right now, but it will have a list of all 11 of the sex offenders we have in the city as well as other things that will be helpful to citizens,” he said. “The first thing is communication. I get information we collect on a daily basis, but we strive to push that information back to the public to keep them informed of what’s going on.”
Another way to help protect and serve is crime watch neighborhoods.
“People need to know who their neighbors are and talk to them,” Coffman said. “We need them watching each other’s houses when someone goes out of town. That’s what we need to get back to. Everybody who lives in a neighborhood has got a vision of what is suppose to be there and they know when something is out of place. An extra set of eyes is just as good as a camera.”
With the 18,000-plus residents in Bryant, that means there are 36,000 sets of eyes in 16 square miles of the city limits.
“That’s how many cameras we have in the city,” Coffman said.
Also, the Bryant police are usually called to a complaint scene more often than not.
“Nobody ever invites us to a party unless we get a complaint or see it on patrol,” he said. “We are invited by someone complaining no matter how minor it is.”
From a barking dog complaint to a break-in call, it is important, and priority is given in each situation by the police.
“A barking dog is not a top priority call in respects to a break-in, but the urgency of the call is important to each person, otherwise they wouldn’t call,” Coffman said. “People have to know we are there for them. They are our customers. We are constructing a website to make it convenient for the public, but we are still going to provide the personal touch from the officer. They need to interact.”
Officers are required to make contact with the person after a complaint has been made to make sure there is no more information to be gathered within five days.
“It’s to let them know that this is still on file and we’re still looking at it,” Coffman said. “We don’t forget them and that’s why the personal touch is so important.”
Currently, there are 43 employees at the Bryant police department and, in that number, 34 are sworn officers of the law.