Three Criminal Justice Majors and their professor visited with Sheriff Chris Brown recently to learn more about what the Sheriff’s office and jail do. The students were Tonya Felice who wants to become a probation officer, Jacob Malone who wants to join the FBI and Rikki Stacey who wants to be a forensic psychologist. Introduction to Criminal Justice professor J. Dennis Devine said he could teach them from textbooks but felt that learning was so much better when they could take a “field trip” and see the real workings of criminal justice.

Devine said he has also had Heber Springs Police Chief Bobby Walker in to talk with the students. He shared his knowledge on being a homicide investigator as well as being a lead interrogator in a previous position. Walker also told them the three most common lies criminals tell. 1) I’ve only had a couple of beers, 2) It isn’t mine and I don’t know how it got there and

3) Nope there’s nothing in my car.

Brown shared with the students how he came to be in Arkansas and in law enforcement. He discussed changes that have been made since January when he became Sheriff. He shared with them about the training that officers do each month. He also told them about the way the schedules are done so they don’t violate labor laws. It is different with the way police are allowed to work.

Currently, there are 26 employees in the Sheriff’s office, 45 if the jail employees are included.

Brown gave a quick tour of the Sheriff’s office and then the group went over to tour the jail with Jail Administrator Angelo Aldrighetti.  Aldrighetti visited with the group about what it is like to work in a jail. He stressed that it is not our job to make the inmate’s life worse. He feels that sometimes all an inmate who is unruly needs is someone to listen. He said that employees and inmates must abide by the rules and remember who is in charge. “The staff here does a great job.” They have two pods, two four man blocks and two eight man blocks and a female block. Guards must do checks every hour. Lights out is at 11 p.m. Currently they have a staff of three, although they should have five, the night shift has between two to four. The thing to remember is we are always outnumbered he told the students.

The students were shown the training room, the lockers for officers, the refrigerator that holds evidence and the interrogation room, which unlike on tv is a very small room. Brown stressed that police work is not like on tv. He also pointed out some of the improvements, such as new paint and pictures on the walls. “This building was depressing,” said Brown, “So we painted it and brought in some pictures on the walls and it is so much better.”

While at the jail Brown also said that while they hold convicted criminals, some inmates are awaiting trial and therefore, “Are innocent until proven guilty and they still have rights.” He also said they try not to hold those with misdemeanor charges, leaving room for those who commit felonies.

As the group toured both facilities both Brown and Aldrighetti answered questions from the students. At the end of the tour the students thanked the Sheriff and Aldrighetti for taking the time to give them the tours and answer their questions.