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story.lead_photo.caption Keith Bryant/The Weekly Vista Bella Vista police chief James Graves addresses the crowd gathered at Concordia for a coffee with a cop session sponsored by the Seniors and Law Enforcement Together, or SALT, council.

Police chief James Graves spoke about the department with a group of Bella Vistans gathered at Concordia Friday morning.

He noted the city has been ranked as the safest city in Arkansas. Neighborhood search engine recently ranked Bella Vista the 48th safest city in the nation.

The downside that comes with a low crime rate, he said, is that this makes it hard to justify growing the police department to keep up with the city's increasing population.

"We make do with what we have," he said.

While the city sees incredibly little violent crime, he said, there are some property crimes -- mostly breaking and enterings and burglaries -- as well as drug crime.

Bella Vista doesn't see a lot of issues directly related to drug use, Graves explained, but the secluded neighborhoods often offer attractive locations for the manufacture and distribution of illicit substances.

The department has recently added a narcotics officer, who works strictly on drug crime, in order to prevent this from becoming a significant issue, he said.

The department keeps a minimum of four to five officers on patrol at all times, he said, and they work to be proactive rather than purely reactive.

"Crime here is very low ... we're doing a lot to be proactive," he said. "When we're not taking calls we're driving around."

After discussing the department, Graves fielded questions from the audience.

One audience member asked how often the department deals with crime from nonresidents in Bella Vista.

Graves explained that U.S. highway 71 brings a lot of out-of-town traffic through Bella Vista. A significant number of driving-under-the-influence arrests, which typically happen late at night or early in the morning, involve nonresidents, he said.

Another attendee asked how to report unsafe drivers.

Graves explained that for unsafe drivers or any other nonemergency contact, residents can call the police department at 479-855-3771.

Multiple questions were asked about the city's recently-built and under-construction trail systems.

Graves told the audience that his department keeps six officers in the bike patrol unit, and they spend some time riding in uniform to keep an eye on the city's trails. They also work on trail-centric events, he said, to help keep up with any added load from having additional people in the city.

The chief also stressed that, while the department works to be proactive, officers rely on residents' help. Anyone who sees something out of place should call, he said, so officers can check and ensure everything is going smoothly.

Concordia resident Joan Knight Reigel said she enjoyed the presentation.

She was most concerned about scams that have been targetting older residents, she explained.

She's lived in Bella Vista for about two years and was particularly happy to learn she had moved to a safe community, she said.

"I've lived all over the country and I'm so blessed to live in a place that's as serene as it looks," she said.

General News on 04/17/2019

Print Headline: Chief Graves highlights low crime at coffee with a cop

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