New sheriff’s building first priority for Robinson

Now that the race for Jefferson County sheriff has been decided, Sheriff Gerald Robinson said his top priority next year will be to get the new sheriff’s office building open and take a little time off.

Ground was broken Wednesday for the John Lloyd “Pete” Harrison Sheriff’s building, which will be located adjacent to the W.C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center on East Second Avenue.

“My main goal is to get that building finished in a year,” Robinson said.

When it is completed, it will allow every division of the sheriff’s department to be in the same place, rather than scattered in several different buildings, including the county courthouse. The cost for the building has been projected to be $3.3 million.

It will be built in stages as funds become available, with the department’s Patrol and Criminal Investigations Divisions moving in first. Those two divisions are currently located in buildings in the 100 block of Main Street.

Robinson said he also wants to bring the Junior Deputy Program back to try and reach out to young people.

“Right now, we’ve got deputies mentoring to kids through a program called Be A Winner but I want to bring back Junior Deputies and have kids participating under the umbrella of the sheriff’s office,” Robinson said. “Hopefully by doing that, we can get some kids interested in a career in law enforcement.”

Robinson also plans to try and increase revenue for the jail and is looking at a variety of avenues to do that, including increasing the percentage the department receives on telephone service and through the commissary program.

“We’re going to explore every avenue we can to increase the revenue,” Robinson said. “We’re going to talk to the state Highway Department about us possibly contracting to clean up along the Martha Mitchell Expressway and the Interstate,” Robinson said. “Right now, there are private groups doing that and we think we can do a better job and make it more presentable by using our Clean Team.”

Robinson said he is also going to see to it that the service of legal papers and warrants increases, thus generating more revenue for the department.

Developing “more visible partnerships” with other counties is also in the works, Robinson said, explaining that the department is currently working with Lincoln County deputies, and Robinson wants to develop a relationship with Arkansas County as well.

The three counties make up the Tri-County Drug Task Force, but almost all the officers assigned to the task force are from Jefferson County and Pine Bluff.

Robinson said deputies will be resuming their Zero Tolerance campaign, which had been put on the back burner because of the election and personnel changes after the first of the year.

“That has not been out of our minds at all and we’re going to be aggressive at it, particularly on drugs, “Robinson said. “The things we’ve been doing we’re going to continue to do, including Operation Dead Beat Dads and the Adopted Grandparents program.”

He said persons interested in the Adopted Grandparents program can sign up on the department’s website by clicking on the Patrol Division.

As far as taking time off, Robinson said “I hope people don’t get mad if they call my cell phone and I don’t answer right away but I’m going to take a little vacation and get away from things.”