|Not Arkansas. Not 21st century.|
Police officers in Paragould, Arkansas, soon will commence AR-15-assisted foot patrols, during which they will approach random citizens to demand identification and ascertain the citizens' reasons for being outside.
The Paragould Police confirmed the plan in a notice posted a couple days ago on their website. Officials acknowledge that the plan has alarmed the local populace:
Many citizens, through various media outlets, have expressed a concern about the police "violating rights" or "violating the Constitution". *
But police say such actions are necessary:
Understand, crime is fluid and ever-changing. We as law enforcement are forced to change with it.
Police explained the plan further:
Officers will be working to identify residents in [high crime areas] so that we can better serve our affected neighborhoods. Most often, this identification process will be nothing more than making contact with a subject, handing them a business card, and asking if they live in the area and if there's anything we can do for them.
During hours in which crime seems to be more prevalent (i.e. between the hours of 11pm and 5 am), our process will become more stringent. We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact. The record keeping is two-fold: First, we want to try to keep from over-lapping making contact with the same people multiple times.
Once we know where people live, or that they always walk in that particular neighborhood, then we'll not need to repeat that contact. We will not be harassing citizens. Secondly, by documenting those of the criminal element,** we have a record of that contact and where/when it occurred. An example of where this will be helpful is if a crime (i.e. burglary, breaking or entering) is reported the next morning. We then have a list of "go-to" suspects to question regarding that incident or incidents.
As for the AR-15's:
The AR-15 and police work is nothing new. Our Street Crimes Unit will not be wearing them constantly. That would be impractical.... When our officers deploy into areas where there is the potential for contacting several subjects in a high-crime area, that is when the potential deployment of AR-15's will occur.
Somehow, this all sounds eerily familiar. Yes, I believe we have seen this before. It was in another time and another place, and not so long ago.
*Note the strategic use of quotation marks, as if to question or perhaps mock the suggestion that this plan violates our Constitution.
**This in particular puzzles me. Do i.d. cards in Arkansas specify which element citizens belong to? How many social elements are there? Who decides, and on what basis?