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UAMS Seeks Ways to Broaden Jurisdiction for Police Officers

'It's...more limited here in Arkansas, and it makes our job a little bit harder'

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - In a sea of medical scrubs, police uniforms stick out like a sore thumb on the campus of UAMS in Little Rock.

"I love what I do," Patrol Sgt. Bradley Jones says.

"I love helping people."

Jones has worn the badge for 10 years. He's one of 40 officers on the UAMS campus, which stretches from Markham to Interstate 630 and beyond.

But, it's some of those locations beyond where officers tiptoe a property line of authority.

"Maybe get us a little bit more jurisdiction than what we have right now," Robert Barrentine, UAMS Chief of Police says.

"It's just a little bit more limited here in Arkansas, and it makes our job a little bit harder."

The UAMS assistant Chief of Police sent an e-mail to Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay last week seeking an opinion on deputizing UAMS officers, calling their current jurisdiction "somewhat limiting"...with "a gray area when it comes to traveling off-site."

"That was just an exploratory thing to see if that's possible," Barrentine says of the idea about deputizing his officer.

According to Arkansas code, institutional police officers may only make an arrest outside the primary jurisdiction when "engaging in an intelligence-gathering activity," as stated in code 25-17-305.

"It's a little vague; maybe clean it up a little bit," Barrentine says.

"It needs to be specific so that my officers know exactly what they can and cannot do."

It's a prognosis for patrol that some say could be better.

Chief Barrentine tells me he plans to meet with other university or institutional campus leaders to try to develop a game plan before bringing the issue to lawmakers

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