The sheriff’s office in Pulaski County will return to baseball.
A proposed ordinance sponsored by Pulaski County of the Peace of Julie Blackwood and championed by Sheriff Eric Higgins, would provide grants to the department to partner with the Junior Deputy Baseball Program.
After raising funds for the program for over half a century, the sheriff’s office, according to Higgins, has been involved in running the program for the past decades. Ballparken has operated independently of the sheriff’s office since the 90’s and is affiliated with Little League Baseball.
“Over time, they got their own 501C3, and the sheriff’s department provided some staffing,” Higgins said. “I think the last staff they gave, as far as I understand, was perhaps the person who was the last money they gave. Towards the end of the 90s or early 2000s, there was no official affiliation with the junior deputy ball field.”
One of Higgins’ goals after being elected sheriff was to rebuild his relationship with Junior Deputy Baseball. According to Junior Deputy Park Manager Jeff Poe, the sheriff had to work immediately to rebuild the relationship after joining the meeting with the Junior Deputy Baseball Board to renew the partnership between the police and their program.
The pandemic set in motion many things Higgins wanted to do, including a renewal of his baseball deal, but he hopes the funding coming through the Quorum Court, a proposed $ 600,000 over three years, will get underway.
Baseball has always been part of the Junior Deputy Program in Pulaski County since its inception in 1947 by then sheriff Tom Gulley.
“He was a minor league baseball player, and he used sports to connect with the kids and guide them,” Higgins said. “And then, he had a pretty good junior goods program.”
The Junior Deputy Baseball Park was built by the county for the program at 2400 Cantrell Road, where it remains an integral part of the program.
Higgins said he hopes the program will build a bridge between the sheriff’s office and the community.
“I think, by engaging in society in a positive way, it will help build a relationship [with the community], “Sa Higgins.” Because it’s not just with the kids. It’s with the families. Part of what we want these deputies in these key programs to do is make home visits. “
According to Higgins, society needs to understand that while writing quotes and arresting individuals is part of law enforcement, there should be no focus.
“We’re always going to do these things,” Higgins said. “As part of your job, you arrest. You write tickets, but there can be no focus. For us, [the program] helps us to be reminded of who our society is. “
Grants went unanimously through the Pulaski County Quorum Court Agenda Committee meeting on Tuesday, and were forwarded to the full Quorum Court meeting on July 27.
The sheriff’s may. Simon Haynes spoke at the meeting and compared the program with a Boy Scout with a police officer.
“Our hope is to revive the Junior Deputy program,” Haynes said. “So we get involved with the people at the ballpark and get them involved with the police again.”
The program has no effect on the county municipality and will be fully funded.
“I understand that the county has limited resources, and it is important for us to find a scholarship to support this program,” Higgins said. “We are blessed to receive this grant.”
The grant will give the sheriff’s office four new positions, including a Junior Deputy Program Director, an Administrative Assistant and two part-time cadets.
Higgins said the cadet positions are important to him because of his experience as a cadet with the Little Rock Police Department.
“Because of the grant, it allows us to start on another aspect of this, which is the cadet program, to actually hire young people to come and work at the sheriff’s department,” Higgins said. “We are happy to introduce people to the police from getting them to work here. This is nothing new to me.”
According to Higgins, the department will wait until the program is funded to search for individuals to fill these positions.