The Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training (CLEST) recently held its regular public meetings. These meetings occurring every two months in Camden and Little Rock, are crucial for ensuring that law enforcement officers meet the high standards expected by the community.
Established in 1975, CLEST’s role in Arkansas has been to set and enforce the criteria for hiring and training law enforcement officers. The commission’s recent meetings focused on reviewing the certification of officers, a process described by Commissioner and Arkansas State Police Major Stacie Rhoads as crucial for maintaining trust in law enforcement. “Officers hold on to their certification unless it’s proven otherwise in these hearings,” Rhoads explained. This round of hearings resulted in 14 officers being decertified out of 17, with each having the right to appeal the decision.
CLEST Director Chris Chapmond, highlighting the importance of the commission’s work, stated, “Ensuring the highest standards in law enforcement in Arkansas is our top priority.” He also mentioned the low rate of misconduct among officers in the state while emphasizing the importance of their role in the community.
The commission is not just about maintaining current standards; they’re also looking to the future. New initiatives have been introduced, including feedback mechanisms at training academies and programs to bring in experienced law enforcement professionals as mentors for new recruits. These steps are aimed at continuously improving the skills and ethical standards of law enforcement officers serving communities across Arkansas.