As early voting began this past week, Tim Ryals vies for re-election as Faulkner County Sheriff.
“Under my leadership as your Faulkner County Sheriff, the Sheriff’s Office has advanced in several areas over the past five years. These include communication, partnerships, training advancements, and hiring to name a few,” Ryals said. “Communication within the department has been a critical advancement during my time thus far in office.”
Ryals said he meets with all commanders every other week and with administrative staff every Monday to discuss current issues and strategic plans to address concerns.
“In my opinion, there is no better form of strategic planning than face-to-face planning on a regular basis,” Ryals said. “This has also allowed us to strengthen and grow our partnerships outside of the office.”
In the past few years, FCSO has partnered numerous times with all other law enforcement agencies in the county to benefit the community through events such as Cops & Bobbers, Faith & Blue National Weekend, Concerns of Police Survivors Blood Drives and Gold Tournaments, Share-A-Bear Holiday Police-Community Relations Event and others.
“Our Public Information Officer has drastically expanded our community outreach and notification efforts with Website Press Releases, Community Notifications in the local paper, and a very active social media presence that keeps the community advised of office functions, case closures, investigations, sex offender notifications and weather alert information,” Ryals said. “Under my leadership, we both began and grew a strong partnership with local school districts and colleges. Our partnership with UCA has allowed us to host ride-alongs, panel interviews, trainings, and other events for students, and it provides students an opportunity to complete internships with the department.
“We have two students who have already completed internships, and we have a third student beginning a six-month internship this summer. We are also actively involved in the local school systems. In addition to having a full-time School Resource Officer servicing Guy, Enola, and Mt. Vernon School Districts, we have hosted Drunk Driving Simulation Exercises with the Faulkner County Coroner’s Office in preparation for prom and have surprised local teachers with certificates for Teacher Appreciation Week each year.”
Since taking office, Ryals has made many successful structural changes within the department.
“One of my earlier initiatives was to centrally locate our CID Office near the jail and justice building, a move which has successfully improved the efficiency and effectiveness of CID as well as evidence preservation,” he said.
The effectiveness of the CID along with Patrol, Administration and Reserve Deputies has also allowed the implementation of quality Saturation Patrol, which has shown to be a very effective local measure, to identify locations of highest crime areas and utilize all resources to saturate areas with traffic stops and command presence, he said. In the most recent saturation, deputies partnered with the 20th Judicial District Drug Task Force and Arkansas State Police to conduct over 75 traffic stops, make multiple felony arrests, and recover thousands of dollars of stolen property. This unit was also recently able to uncover a multi-jurisdictional theft ring and recover over $40K of stolen property from five different counties.
“While my opponent states that he will create a task force, he should realize that a task force is already in place. As noted from results of the last saturation and numerous past and ongoing investigations, this unit has been extremely successful in partnering with the 20th Judicial Drug Task Force and Arkansas State Police,” Ryals said.
Ryals is also proud that an increase in office effectiveness has assisted investigators in their ability to solve cold cases from previous administrations. “I am very proud that we were able to provide closure to the family of Pam Felkins,” he said.
Ryals also implemented a third-party medical service and a Guardian Jail System for the Faulkner County Detention Center, both of which substantially reduced the risk of lawsuits and increased the safety for both inmates and staff.
“While my opponent states he will make more room in the jail to house violent offenders, he seems to not realize that, this too, is already being done,” Ryals said.
There are already several proposals in place with the county for the future of Unit 2, plans which require engineering and needs assessment to occur before expansions can actually take place.
Recently, Ryals chose to fund life-saving body armor for 22 Reserve Deputies, and FCSO is in the process of equipping every patrol deputy with body cameras that were made available through a state grant. He also recently implemented a 3-acre training facility and firing range in central Faulkner County to accommodate all agencies within the county at no additional cost to the taxpayer. University of Central Arkansas Police Department was able to take advantage of this new facility earlier this year.
“Under my leadership, we have drastically transformed and expanded our training for all divisions of the office. I promoted our first Department Training Commander and created a new recruit training program to better prepare deputies,” Ryals said.
New training courses include physical fitness, life-saving training, and Spanish classes to prepare them to serve the growing Spanish-speaking population in the county.
FCSO already exceeds the standards of the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training. These are the state standards that departments should meet and exceed in the State of Arkansas.
“My opponent has argued that we should become accredited with the Arkansas Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ALEAP)”, Ryals said. ALEAP is a voluntary accreditation program based in the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police. This is primarily a municipality or city-based accreditation program and agency. To participate in this program, the agency Chief must be a member of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police, and this voluntary program also comes with several costs in addition to that membership. “Annually, this accreditation would cost the department approximately $2,000 in addition to also having to pay for a committee member to travel and stay in Faulkner County during the application process,“ Ryals said. “The department would also have to hire a program coordinator, a position that is mandated by ALEAP for us to maintain. The ALEAP program also supports membership in CALEA, and offers a discount on annual fees if the member organization maintains CALEA accreditation, something that would cost well over $11,000”. Currently, there are no Arkansas Sheriff’s Departments which are ALEAP accreditation members.
Ryals said that money can be better spent equipping deputies with life-saving equipment, training and body cameras.
“I will always advocate for a standard of excellence, strong leadership and a solid commitment to core values within the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “This is accomplished by continuing to utilize funds in ways that strengthen our local community and department rather than outsource thousands of dollars to a voluntary accreditation program with little research to prove effectiveness.
“I realize that, like me, many citizens of Faulkner County are concerned about vicious animals, a problem that has caused tragic deaths in recent years within our county. While my opponent states he will create an animal control team, this too has already been in process for several years now.” Animal control within the county cannot be accomplished until an animal shelter is in place, he said.
“I have worked avidly over the past five years to bring this plan to fruition. Currently, the animal shelter is in planning stages with the County Judge’s Office and Quorum Court,” Ryals said.
“Now is not the time to reinvent the wheel. Nor is it the time to spend thousands of dollars on red tape bureaucracy like voluntary accreditation which will tie the hands of the Sheriff’s Office. My opponent is making the same promises to you that I have actually delivered upon over the past five years. Clearly, he lacks an understanding of the many accomplishments, partnerships, training, and policies that the Sheriff’s Office already has in place. Our CID, Deputies, Court Security, Transport, Dispatchers, and all other staff are doing a tremendous job with the funding available and it is important that we continue to build on these successes in the years to come. That is why I ask for your vote to re-elect me, Tim Ryals, as Faulkner County Sheriff.”