November 17, 2023
This week, the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training (CLEST) hosted public meetings to discuss the recertification and decertification of certain law enforcement officers in the State of Arkansas along with other pertinent matters surrounding the agency. These regularly scheduled meetings occur every two months in Camden and Little Rock.
Recertification hearings give an already decertified officer the opportunity to appear before the commission to challenge decertification. Decertification hearings are provided to officers who are in the process of losing their credentials to serve as law enforcement officers and would like to plead their case to the commission. “Officers get to keep their certification until the individuals involved in these hearings prove to the commission that the officers are not deserving of it,” said Commissioner and Arkansas State Police Major Stacie Rhoads.
At this week’s meetings, 17 total hearings were conducted, and 14 officers were decertified. These officers will have the opportunity to appeal at a later date.
“It is our responsibility to ensure the law enforcement profession in the State of Arkansas is held to the highest standard. If an officer is accused of misconduct, the commission will hear that case and determine if the officer has committed an act that rises to the level of decertification. Misconduct among our law enforcement ranks is less than 1 percent of our total officers across the state, but we should all remember that it is a privilege to be an officer and if someone fails to recognize that then they could lose the opportunity,” said CLEST Director Chris Chapmond.
Director Chapmond also discussed several new endeavors for CLEST. At each new law enforcement training academy, individuals will have the opportunity to fill out an entry and exit survey. This will help CLEST determine where academy instruction is “hitting the mark” so they can better serve future law enforcement officers across the State of Arkansas. They also plan on inviting current municipal police chiefs and county sheriffs to come speak with individuals to encourage them to stay in the profession and build upon their careers.
Director Chapmond, appointed in January, and his team are excited about the opportunity for growth and change. They want to ensure that Arkansas can produce high quality officers who will make a positive difference in the communities they serve.