The Benton Police Department established the SWAT Team in 2000 as a response to an increase in “special threat” situations in Benton. The members of the specially trained team are faced with varied, multi-faceted missions. They respond to dangerous situations that include barricaded subjects, serving high-risk warrants and the arrest of potentially violent suspects.
Selection for the SWAT Team is a difficult process. All applicants must be sworn Benton Police Department officers. Initial tryouts are physically and mentally demanding. Applicants must be agile, physically fit and capable of accomplishing multiple tasks under extremely stressful conditions. Once every challenge is met, the applicant is interviewed before a review board consisting of SWAT Team members and the SWAT Commander. Of the numerous applicants, only a handful are selected to attend the SWAT school held in Camden.
The Benton Police Department has had an established K-9 unit for some time and currently has three K-9 teams in service.
Two of the K-9s, “Lucky” and “Honor,” are cross-trained in patrol and narcotics detection and one, “Benton,” is trained in narcotics detection only. The department’s K-9 teams play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of the police department. The support and resources these K-9s provide to patrol and narcotic operations is immeasurable. These teams have been credited with numerous drug seizures, apprehensions of violent offenders, and searches for persons while aiding the Benton Police and other state agencies.
Currently, the K-9 handlers and their K-9s are assigned to both the Patrol Division and Special Investigations Unit.
• K-9 “Lucky” is the longest serving K-9 currently in use at the department. In service since January of 2008, “Lucky” is a Belgian Malinois trained in patrol operations that consist of criminal apprehension, handler protection, prisoner escorts, article recovery, tracking, and building searches, and he is also trained in narcotics detection and certified to detect the odors of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. “Lucky” is handled by Sergeant Bigelow and is currently assigned to the Patrol Division, where he has been instrumental in the seizure of hundreds of pounds of illicit drugs, over $150,000 in drug proceeds, numerous vehicles used to transport illicit drugs, and he has assisted with the safe apprehension of several violent felons.
A police recruit struggling to catch on to the ins and outs of police work once commented, "I never realized how much art was involved in police work." Put a little thought to that and you realized that police operation is nowhere close to being a science where numbers rule that day. On that contrary, the art of police work is an ever changing environment where no two situations are the same and every situation is affected by innumerable variables from the weather to the complex emotions of complex people. Police operations require the very definition of ART, "superior skills that can be learned by study, practice and observation." Hence the task of the Field Training Officer, or FTO: to orient and prepare recruits to enter the field of police operations where law enforcement is but the tip of the iceberg. The Benton Police Department FTO program is modeled after the famed San Jose FTO program which is credited with being the first formal FTO program in the U.S. Modified to meet our needs as they change, the FTO program currently involves a twelve week ride along program in three stages where a recruit moves from observing and orientating, to being moderately responsible for task, to being responsible for all of the task that an officer would face on a daily basis.
Benton Police Department Accident Reconstruction Team
The Benton Police Department Accident Reconstruction Team (ART) consists of five officers that are highly trained in the investigation of traffic crashes. The team is tasked in investigating traffic crashes that have resulted in a fatality or there is likely to be a fatality from the injuries received in the traffic crash. They are called to the scene by the patrol division when deemed necessary and when they arrive they take over the investigation. These officers are trained in photography of the scene, how to collect and interpret the specific evidence at a traffic crash, document the scene (notes and sketches), and then put together a reconstruction of what led up to the crash, impact and post impact events. Some of the information gathered from the scene can be entered into mathematical formulas that determine vehicle speeds, drag factor of the surface, the distance and time traveled by the vehicle, the perception and reaction time of the operators, and occupant locations in vehicle based on injuries. All this information is used to determine whom is at fault in the crash, and if it could have been avoidable. Based on the findings of the reconstruction it is then decided if criminal charges will be pursued in the incident.
The Honor Guard is a voluntary assignment made up of a group of dedicated professionals of the Benton Police Department. Founded by Chief Kirk Lane in May 2009, the purpose the Honor Guard is to assist and support the families of officers killed or injured in the line of duty as well as paying tribute to deceased active or retired personnel. Additionally, The Honor Guard provides services at funerals, parades, memorials, dedications, and other ceremonial occasions; both celebratory and solemn.
The Benton H.N.T. is comprised of 6 Negotiators. These Negotiators received extensive training from various agencies including the FBI and NYPD. This training consists of not only Hostage Negotiation techniques but also in Crisis Management. The H.N.T. responds to a multitude of different calls for service including: Hostage Situations, Barricaded Persons, Emotionally Disturbed Persons, and Suicide Attempts. During these calls for service the Negotiators use psychological techniques known as Active Listening Skills to calm the situation before negotiations can take place. Negotiators work very closely with the S.W.A.T. Team by gaining and relaying any tactical information pertaining to the situation at hand. The main goal of the H.N.T. is to have the situation at hand be resolved in a peaceful manner.
At the Benton Police Department we are especially proud of our officers that have obtained the certification of Drug Recognition Expert. The training to achieve certification is rigorous and only a hand full of officers in the country have completed it. Out of the approximately 14,000 police officers in the state of Arkansas only about 150 of them are a certified DRE. We are proud to have three of those DREs in our department.
A drug recognition expert must have successfully completed an approved course in the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFSTs) before beginning the three-phase Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program, which includes the following phases:
Phase One: The 16-hour DRE Pre-school, which includes an overview of the DRE evaluation procedures, the seven drug categories, eye examinations and proficiency in conducting the SFSTs.
Phase Two: The 56-hour DRE School which includes an overview of the drug evaluation procedures, expanded sessions on each drug category, drug combinations, examination of vital signs, case preparation, courtroom testimony, and Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) preparation. At the conclusion of the 7-days of training, the officer must successfully complete a written examination before moving to the third and final phase of training.
Phase Three: During this phase the candidate DRE must complete a minimum of 12 drug evaluations under the supervision of a trained DRE instructor. Of those 12 evaluations, the officer must identify an individual under the influence of at least three of the seven drug categories and obtain a minimum 75% toxicological corroboration rate. The office must then pass a final knowledge examination and be approved by two DRE instructors before being certified as a certified DRE.
Many states require an application to be considered for DRE training. The application form provides detailed information about the applicants work history and involvement in impaired driving enforcement.
Ofc. Jamar Bennett
Ofc. Joey Bedsole
Ofc. Michael McClain
Ofc. Drew Brown