Police substation has not curbed crime in East Paragould

Many communities in the delta have an area on the “other side of the tracks;” in Paragould, the east side is known to have a higher crime rate than the rest of the town.

This is where we find Louiesa Spencer.

She’s a mother of three kids who moved from Memphis in July 2016.

“It’s a good neighborhood. I like it over here,” Spencer said. “Where I’m at in East Emerson nothing be going on.”

She lives a block from Labor Park, but she’s not as concerned about crime in her neighborhood as others.

Diane Stone has lived in the eastside for about 31 years and believes it’s gotten worse recently. Despite her fears, she feels the Paragould police substation has helped keep crime in check on this side.

“Because I walk and I travel from one end of the street to the other and it’s much safer for females especially, to travel alone. And a lot of us have young children,” Stone said.

Years ago, the City of Paragould decided to revamp an old fire station and use it as the Criminal Investigation division of the police department.

Cpl. Jack Hailey is a detective for the police department and said it officially opened in November 2013.

“They wanted to put something over here so we had a presence more in the center of where we were seeing a lot of the high crime area,” Cpl. Hailey said.

He pulled up reports of when officers responded to an undisclosed neighborhood in that area and his hope diminished.

Here’s how many times officers actually filled out a police report after responding:

2011: 92

2012: 129

2013: 35

2015: 111

2016: 35

The 2014 reports are not listed because of Cpl. Hailey said they actually change reporting systems that year and he couldn’t pull up the reports.

“If you look at the numbers and you were to chart it, it’d be a rollercoaster, he said. “You would have a year that you were high a year that you were low. It kind of intrigues me as to why that’s the way it kind of cycles through there.”

These reports are not specific so Cpl Hailey couldn’t tell if property crimes where down and violent crimes where going up or vice versa.

However, the FBI compiles a list of violent crimes reported by each police department.

The FBI data shows the more serious crimes also have a rollercoaster trend.

When comparing that Paragould data to cities with similar populations like West Memphis and Bella Vista, you can see the trend is not limited to the Greene County community.

Cpl. Hailey believes several factors play into effect when it comes to this crime.

“I think that goes back to what I kind of said earlier, it’s a building,” he said. “You can put a building all day, decorate it with pretty badges all day, but the people who are actually in there, you don’t ever see them or don’t meet them, it’s just a building.”

He also believes poverty and a growing populations factor into the trend.

Despite that evidence, Stone says the substation’s location did save her life one day.

On her way home in Sept. 2016, she passed the Franklin apartments on Lake Street.

“All of a sudden I saw a young man probably in his early 30s behind me,” she said.

Many people walk on that side of town so she didn’t think much of it.

“When I crossed that bridge I heard a click and I stood across the street and I looked and he had a gun in his hand and I ran to the substation,” she said.

She filled out a police report there and officers almost immediately arrested the man.

“I said there’s a dude with a gun and he was going to shoot me and he said not on our watch,” Stone said.

Stone’s friend, Marie Humble was there with her during the interview and said she’d like to see more patrols in the area.

Meanwhile, Louiesa Spencer just had one thing to say to criminals.

“Just watch out for me and my kid’s safety,” she said.

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