The Pine Bluff City Council Administration Committee recommended Thursday that the full council vote to approve a request from the Pine Bluff Police Department to adjust the duties and the salary of a civilian position that benefits the city’s Neighborhood Watch programs.
PBPD Assistant Chief Ivan Whitfield briefed committee Chairman George Stepps and committee member Lloyd Holcomb Jr. on the planned changes, including a change in the position title to Neighborhood Watch/public relations clerk from Neighborhood Services/Americorps coordinator. Committee member Wayne Easterly was not present for the meeting.
“Last year the position included being the Americorps coordinator as well as the Neighborhood Watch duties,” Whitfield said. “Funding for Americorps was eliminated, so there is no Americorps this year. As such, the salary will drop from roughly $31,000 per year down to $22,900 per year.”
In terms of changes to the position’s duties and responsibilities, Whitfield said that the PBPD will do its best to have the officer assigned to public relations attend as many Neighborhood Watch chapter meetings as possible.
“We want to have a stronger police presence at these meetings to show the participants that we are involved,” Whitfield said. “The clerk will attend those meetings that the officer cannot attend and will relay questions and concerns from meeting participants back to the officer.”
Whitfield said that the position previously required the clerk to attend all Neighborhood Watch chapter meetings.
“Overall, between the elimination of Americorps and the new emphasis on having an officer attend most of the Neighborhood Watch meetings instead of the clerk, the reduction in salary is justified by the reduction in job responsibilities,” Whitfield said.
Whitfield said that one of the added benefits of having a police presence at the Neighborhood Watch meetings is providing security for the meeting participants.
“Most of the Neighborhood Watch members are more mature members of our community and having a police officer at the meetings will provide them with a safer walk to their vehicles,” Whitfield said.