By Ray King

The Pine Bluff City Council on Monday voted to suspend the rules and read a proposed ordinance creating a peer support program for the Pine Bluff Police Department before adopting it unanimously.

The new policy will be included in the department’s policy manual and Police Chief Denise Richardson will be responsible for selecting members of the support team.

Council member and former Police Chief Ivan Whitfield was asked his thoughts on the new policy by Deltaplex News.

The purpose of the policy is to provide in-house resources to department employees, retired employees, and their family members “to support them in managing both professional and personal crisis.” It goes on to say that the support team may be utilized to support personnel from other departments and may also be used to support the community in critical incidents such as school shootings, natural disasters, etc.

The policy also provides examples of critical incidents such as officer involved shootings, an employee witnessing another employee’s death or serious injury, an employee taken hostage or who witnessed a suicide or a violent death or the death of an infant or child.

An ordinance repealing a section of the city code of ordinances which authorized police auxiliary officers and which the department no longer uses was read once and placed on the calendar for a future meeting.

Also approved was a resolution authorizing the Mayor and Chief Richardson to sign a contract with CI Technologies for use of its IAPRO and Blue Team professional software.

According to the resolution, the software will cost $15,600 with annual training and maintenance by the company costing an additional $3,000 annually. No new money will be required as there are sufficient funds available in the department’s 2022 budget, the resolution said.