The Conway Police Department has created a Crime Suppression Unit in an effort to deter crime within the city.
"This is a fantastic program," Mayor Bart Castleberry said Tuesday. "One of the highlights to it is that it really allows officers to have face-to-face time with people in neighborhoods and allows them to be more visible."
Patrol Division Maj. Chris Harris said the program will allow Conway police to focus on high-crime areas.
"The city is growing; it’s been growing for the past several years," he said of the need to create the Crime Suppression Unit. "We have enough officers to answer calls, they come in constantly. But, if we have a rash of break ins on one part of town, we don’t have enough officers to just concentrate on that other than in between calls."
This new division will help alleviate that issue and allow officers to focus on high-crime areas as well as the city’s bike trails.
"We’ve never had enough officers to ride the bike trails. Criminals know this," Harris said. "[The trails] are concentrated all over the place. You can get from one Salem [Road] to Hogan [Lane] and never get off the bike trail. So, officers in this this division are also going to be on bikes."
Harris said CPD hopes this program will allow the department to grow.
The Crime Suppression Unit began its duties earlier this week and features five officers who were drafted from the department’s other divisions.
"Obviously, in years to come we’re going to need more officers," Harris said. "When that happens, we’re hoping to expand this."
He said the Crime Suppression Unit will pose as a great way for officers to communicate with Conway residents while keeping an eye on their safety.
"This is more to deter crime and catch criminals in the act but it also allows us to get out and converse with the public," Harris said. "People will feel more comfortable stopping and speaking with an officer if they meet them on a bike trail and in the neighborhoods other than just seeing them drive by and waving from a car."
CPD has offered four bike training classes to its officers so far this year. These classes instruct officers how to get on and off the bike while also teaching them how to maneuver the bike if they are fighting with a suspect. The course also includes a portion on how to turn corners and ride up stairs should the need arise.