Who We Are
Officers are equipped and ready to respond to all types of calls, and are on the street 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They operate a fleet of 23 marked pursuit vehicles, including Ford Explorer Police Interceptors, Dodge Chargers and Chevy Tahoes. The department’s K9 unit operates in a marked Chevy Tahoe.
Each officer is required to complete 16 hours of training per year, including classes and certification courses in Tasers, less-lethal ammunition, radar, firearms, bias-based policing and more. However, Bella Vista Police Department training exceeds this annually, with about 40 hours of in-house training plus additional specialized training. In-house classes are taught by employees of the department who are also state-certified instructors. Many officers within the department have completed specialized training and certification in areas including accident reconstruction, crime scene technician and drug recognition.
Lt. Barb Shrum heads the Criminal Investigation Division. Shrum’s driving force is protecting children from sexual predators, and she maintains the sex offender registry in Bella Vista. While sex crimes are her specialty, she works with her team to investigate and gather evidence for arrest on felony crimes committed in the city. Shrum was recognized in 2014 for 30 years of service with the department, after beginning her career with Bella Vista as a dispatcher. Since then, she has served as a deputy of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office satellite office in Bella Vista, then after incorporation as a corporal, detective and now lieutenant overseeing criminal investigations.
Det. Ed Williams started with the department in 1999. He handles the majority of the department’s drug cases, after information is passed on from officers on the street. Det. Janice Wilson was promoted from patrol to fill a vacancy at the start of 2018.
While each has a specialty, the detectives work together to tackle the city’s crimes. In recent years, the cases in Bella Vista have increased in frequency and severity. In 2012, the department investigated its first murder case since the early 1980s. Property crimes are still the most reported cases. One of the most reported crimes is theft from vehicles. These crimes most frequently occur late at night in the residential areas. They can be easily prevented by locking your car and removing valuables from the car. An unusual case occurred in early 2015 involving theft of timber in the city. A group of individuals were cutting large trees to sell for lumber. The investigation resulted in a person being arrested for the crime. The Arkansas Forestry Commission assisted in this investigation.
Dispatch Division personnel answer emergency and non-emergency calls for police, fire and medical assistance. They work with a staff of nine, working in three shifts 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
Dispatchers are highly trained to relay information to ensure a speedy response. They are also able to remain on the line with callers to give life-saving lessons such as step-by-step CPR instructions or how to stop severe bleeding. They will monitor and relay severe weather information, and contact officials from outside entities if needed, such as the water and electric companies.
The Bella Vista Communications Center is one of the state’s most technologically advanced centers, including ergonomic console furniture and touch screen control of the radio system. The center is a secondary 911 PSAP and receives information directly from Smart 911.
Dispatchers are also on the front line of three programs offered through the Police Department for the benefit of city residents: Vacation House Watch, Operation Good Morning and Project Lifesaver.
Emergency — call 911
Non-emergency — call 479-855-3771.
Cabo, a Belgian Malinois, is the department’s second police K9. He began working the street in March 2017. The department’s first K9, Camo, worked from June 2010 until he retired in November 2016, and now lives with his handler.
Cabo is highly intelligent and he and his handler were specially trained to work together to locate narcotics, serve warrants, search for lost subjects or apprehend suspects. He was also specially trained to protect his handler.
K9 officers live with their handlers, and spends each shift with him or her in a specially designed pursuit vehicle. The Chevy Tahoe patrol car is outfitted for the dog’s protection against the extreme cold or hot, and the handler wears a device on his duty belt that will advise him of dangerous conditions. The device also allows the handler to remotely open the door to the vehicle and release the dog in the event the handler needs him.
While not a danger to the general public, K9 officers are working dogs, and for their safety, adults and children should not approach the animal and try to pet him or her. These dogs are considered certified police officers with the department, and trained at the Little Rock K-9 Academy. Each year, he or she must return to the Academy to be re-certified as a police dog.