BY MELANIE BUCK –
Recently appointed as Chief of Mena Police Department, Brandon Martin has shared his vision of 2015 and the department with The Pulse. Martin began his career in law enforcement sixteen years ago, serving the last eight at Mena P.D., with more than three of those years as detective.
Since becoming chief on January 1, 2015, Martin explained the department is in a transitional and re-organizational period. Explaining that although the transition has been relatively smooth, there are operational phases they are working through, including downsizing some of their areas and equipment.
The officers’ workstation area was filled with cubical walls and several computers, creating a very cramped environment. “Everyone had their own workstation before but we can’t afford to maintain that many computers so we went back to a four station office for the guys to work at.” The room now holds only four desks, each with a computer, and a conference table. “It helps morale when the guys have good things to work with,” said Martin.
Martin was not only able to reorganize the office areas inside the department, he did it at an extremely low cost. “We went to the state surplus for a desk and came back with an entire trailer load of office furniture. We got $8,000 worth for only $500.” The office furniture was owned by the State Lottery Commission before being given to the surplus, a resource Martin plans to use whenever possible. Using the surplus as a resource, the department has spent only $700 on office equipment in the last 7 years.
“What my job entails is to make sure that the department runs as efficiently as possible. We have the biggest budget in the city and we want to make sure we’re doing a good job at being efficient, not wasting taxpayer dollars, without sacrificing to the public. We want to offer the best service for the least amount of burden to the taxpayers.”
In addition to reorganizing office spaces, Martin has new patrolling systems for officers to use to maintain efficiency. “I’ve explained to them what I want them to do. It’s because I want citizens to feel safe in their homes.” He also plans to focus on training and going back to good ol’ simple police work to solve crimes. “Sometimes you just have to get back to the basics. That’s the best police work there is, just the basics. I’m a firm believer in training. We need to make sure that these guys are getting the training they need to do their job better.”
Martin expressed that he wants the department to become more involved with citizens. He wants people to know and trust the officers, and to feel safe in their community. “You can’t have success if you don’t have the public behind you.” Martin invites everyone to ‘like’ their Facebook page, ‘Mena Police Department.’ “We may be working a case and have a photo of someone that we don’t know. If we can get the public involved through Facebook, they can help us out,” said Martin. He shared that many police departments use this strategy with high success rates.
Restructuring case management is another goal of Martin’s. John Logan has been promoted to detective. “We hit all of the felonies really hard, but we also want to start focusing more on the misdemeanors as well,” said Martin. He added, “We have a good solvability rate but we want to make it better. It’s all about taking the time to do it.”
Using children’s educational programs such as D.A.R.E. or McGruff the Crime Dog to become more involved in schools is another area that he would like to see grow. Having children feel comfortable with officers is an important issue with Martin. “We’re behind the eight ball from the beginning. Kids think cops are scary. We’ve got to have something like this to open doors, and having a resource officer like Joe (Quinn) helps.”
“I want to try to be more PR oriented, that’s my job, to represent these guys and for us to make a difference in the town. I know where I want us to go, and what I want us to do, it’s just getting us there,” ended Martin.