From state Sen. Steve Crowell
Law enforcement is predominately a duty of local governments, and the overwhelming majority of police officers in Arkansas work for cities and counties.
However, state government does have 1,299 employees in the Department of Public Safety. There are 897 people working for the Arkansas State Police. The Division of Emergency Management has 88 employees.
The state Crime Lab has a staff of 140, the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training has 38 employees and the Arkansas Crime Information Center has 43 employees.
There are 93 employees whose work is shared by the other divisions. Their duties are administrative, for example, they work in information technology, human resources and writing grant applications.
The Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC) is one of the most important agencies in law enforcement, although many people are unfamiliar with it.
Its primary duty is to operate a massive data system for 250 law enforcement agencies in Arkansas. When local officers take the fingerprints of a criminal suspect, they look for a match in a massive data base with prints submitted by the FBI, the National Crime Information Center and the other 49 states. ACIC is responsible for the entry of all Arkansas criminal files to the national system.
The files contain much more than fingerprints. They have lists of stolen vehicles and metals of value for resale or recycling. They have logbooks of the sales of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are essential ingredients for making illegal drugs.
Criminal history records include pardons by the governor, orders to seal, mental health commitments and juvenile records. The records include results of background checks that are used for handgun permits, and certain records of domestic violence.
ACIC manages the sex offender registry. The names are submitted by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. However, ACIC is responsible for documentation, record retention and tracking of registered sex offenders.
Some of the hardware used at ACIC is almost 14 years old and in need of replacement. The agency is working with the Division of Information Systems to upgrade its technology.
The database of people’s criminal histories is available to local law enforcement officers, but not to the public because it is exempt from the open records requirements in the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. However, sex offender information is public.
Also, ACIC compiles crime statistics that are available to the public. For example, every month in Arkansas between 500 and 700 guns are reported stolen. The cumulative impact of that number may surprise people – at the end of 2022, more than 58,000 guns had been reported stolen in Arkansas.
For comparison, at the end of 2022 there were a total of 11,821 motor vehicles and 308 boats reported stolen in Arkansas.
One file maintained by ACIC is of extreme value to law enforcement. It’s the file of 263 people who are not only prone to violence, but specifically prone to violence against police officers.
The legislature created ACIC in 1971 and has updated its authority, and many times since then has modernized its equipment and technology.
Categories: Police & Fire