From December 15, 2012, Paragould, AR
Armed task force to patrol streets
In response to a recent increase in crime, Paragould Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall offered residents at a town hall meeting Thursday night at West View Baptist Church what could be considered an extreme solution — armed officers patrolling the streets on foot.
Ok, that doesn't sound outrageous, what follows just reeks of bizarre however...
Stovall told the group of almost 40 residents that beginning in 2013, the department would deploy a new street crimes unit to high crime areas on foot to take back the streets.
"[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck," Stovall said. "If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID."
Stovall said while some people may be offended by the actions of his department, they should not be.
"We're going to do it to everybody," he said. "Criminals don't like being talked to."
"They may not be doing anything but walking their dog," he said. "But they're going to have to prove it."
Normally, police would not stop individuals for simply walking on the street, but Stovall said the level of crime in certain areas and concerns from residents gave his officers the right to institute the actions...
"This fear is what's given us the reason to do this. Once I have stats and people saying they're scared, we can do this," he said. "It allows us to do what we're fixing to do."
Stovall further elaborated on the stop-and-ID policy Friday morning, claiming the city's crime statistics alone met the threshold of reasonable suspicion required to lawfully accost a citizen.
"To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason," he said. "Well, I've got statistical reasons that say I've got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you're doing out. Then when I add that people are scared...then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area."
Stovall said he did not consult an attorney before announcing his plans to combat crime. He even remained undaunted when comparing his proposed tactics with martial law, explaining that "I don't know that there's ever been a difference" between his proposals and martial law.
"Anyone that's out walking, because of the crime and the fear factor, [could be stopped]," he said.
Should an individual not produce identification, Stovall said his officers would not back down. Individuals who do not produce identification when asked could be charged with obstructing a governmental operation, according to Stovall. [emphasis mine]
Of course, should they actually attempt this the city would be sued out of existence, and I'm sure criminal charges would also be filed. The blatant attack on Constitutionally guaranteed rights is so obvious, it's almost as if this was some kind of sophomoric hoax.
Well, the point should be noted that tyranny can be exercised at any level, and must be resisted accordingly.
Oh, and I would advise against stopping there for a bite to eat or otherwise when traveling through AR. Just a thought...