Benton Interstate Criminal Enforcement Patrol Program (BICEP)

Luck5BICEP is an acronym for the Benton Interstate Criminal Enforcement Patrol. BICEP was developed in 2010 in response to an analysis of crime that was occurring in and around the residences and businesses in the City of Benton.
It became very apparent that many criminals were using the I-30 corridor that traverses through the center of our city as an ease of access to enter and exit our city to commit crimes and then vanish to larger populated cities outside of our jurisdiction. Also noted was that the I-30 corridor is a well know major drug trafficking route. 
We began looking for avenues of developing resources to curb these activities and to prevent victimization of our citizens. Funds used to operate the Benton Police Department were dwindling with inflation and other economic factors. The demand for police resources by the citizenship was increasing which caused a reduction in time for officers to be proactive in crime prevention and required them to be more reactive to crimes that had already occurred.
In 2010, we began exploring the possibility of the BICEP ideology based upon the fact that we had a long standing relationship with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). We studied and applied for acceptance to have the Benton Police Department accepted to operate and receive overtime funding to work Criminal Interdiction on I-30 through the DEA HIDTA program (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area), which is a federally funded taskforce funding operation to curb drug trafficking. 
Our concept was to build visibility of Benton Police on I-30 and the service roads in a proactive manner that would be a visible deterrent to those that have criminal intent on victimizing upon the citizens of Benton. The purpose of the BICEP Unit was not to generate revenue from issuing traffic citations, but to seek out criminal activity, wanted felons, drug traffickers, recover stolen property and protect the citizens of Benton. The ability to do so was presented which allowed the usage of overtime funds provided through the HITDA, instead of the dwindling strapped City of Benton general fund. 
Having this unit available also added extra resources to the patrol shift that was on duty on the city’s dime. In essence, it provides extra manpower and or back up to city officers that the city could not afford otherwise. It has also served as a great resource to capture those who commit crimes and use the interstate to flee our jurisdiction. 
To put the program in operation, we had to receive permissions from the Arkansas State Police and other jurisdictions. We had to be accepted into the Gulf States HITDA and had to follow stringent protocols to assure accountability. Officer selected had to receive a large amount of training to be fluent in their task and for their safety. Specialized equipment had to be obtained to allow them to do their jobs. Funding was obtained from seized drug funds to obtain the specialized equipment and training. 
Vehicles also had to be specialized to accommodate the K-9 units selected, and this was also purchased from drug seized funds, as well as some retrofits to existing patrol units for them. Officers trained with the Arkansas State Police in all aspects of this field of law enforcement as well as many state and federal programs focusing on Criminal Interdiction. On the job training has also been an ongoing value due to the ever changing criminal trends and techniques. They continuously work in concert with the Arkansas State Police and Highway police as well as many intelligence sharing agencies across the country. 
In the past two plus years the value of the BICEP unit has been apparent in our crime stats as part of our overall strategy for reducing crimes. BICEP officers have been proactive in capturing several robbery suspects that were using the interstate on their way out of the city. They have been instrumental in capturing a number of burglary suspects in the act on businesses along the interstate. They have also apprehended a number of wanted suspects in serious crimes that were travelling through our jurisdiction. 
Their record of accomplishments include the following; recovery of tens of thousands of dollars in stolen property and vehicles utilizing their skills and specialized equipment. They have well exceeded the two million dollar mark in street value of drugs they have seized that were traveling both through and to Benton. They have also been nationally recognized for their efforts by National Criminal Interdiction and K-9 associations over the last few years. 
They have seized drug proceeds that were converted to purchase items for the Benton Police Department that the city funds could not purchase as well as provide for drug prevention education on a local, state and national level. They have been instrumental in obtaining information on several human smuggling rings operating on a national level. 
Intelligence information derived from their contacts have been used by numerous state and local jurisdiction as well as the FBI, DEA, Homeland Security ICE, and other federal agencies. They have developed resources and contacts with many agencies throughout the I-30 corridor to share information to make their mission safer and more successful.
Based on the goals of adopting the concept, the BICEP unit has been an extremely visible crime deterrent for the city. We have received information from reliable sources stating that criminals have purposely avoided travelling to and through Benton, because of the visible and real time accomplishments of this unit. The BICEP unit has been a source of assistance to the officers on the street as well as citizens in need throughout the City of Benton.  
Traffic citations issued by this group is minimal and usually related to an intoxicated driver that they come upon and have to deal with for public safety. They have, and will be, a strong back up for this city’s police department as well as the other agencies that we work with daily. The job they do is inherently dangerous, coupled with the dangers of the highway traffic itself. 
All of the officers assigned to the BICEP are either detectives assigned to the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) or to the patrol division. All of them have K-9 partners that are assigned to them 24-7. Several of the vehicles are equipped with Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR’s) that assist them in detecting stolen vehicles and license plates, and vehicles of interest that may have been used in the commission of a crime. 
In conclusion, the BICEP program is working as designed. We do not foresee adding personnel to the program in the future, but we will entertain new technology to dissect criminal enterprises and techniques to better protect the citizen’s we serve.  

Follow us on Facebook: