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One-on-one with newly appointed Crawford County Sheriff Daniel Perry

Perry officially began duties as Crawford County Sheriff on January 1. 5NEWS sits down with the new sheriff as he details what the community can expect.

CRAWFORD COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — It has been a long-awaited arrival for residents of Crawford County. Daniel Perry won a run-off election for sheriff against Shannon 'Pudge' Gregory, of Mulberry, in the spring, and ran unopposed in November.

On Jan. 1, Perry was officially sworn in as the next Sheriff of Crawford County, replacing the now-retired Sheriff Jim Damante.

Sheriff Perry takes the position of Sheriff with more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, some of which are in the Van Buren Police Department. He plans to use that experience and connections to hit the ground running in his new role.

"I'm getting started, got pages and pages of things I want to accomplish," says Sheriff Perry.

In recent months, the department has found itself at the center of multiple high-profile cases. Such as the violent arrest of Randal Worcester, involving two Crawford County deputies, the death of an inmate, and more recently, the escape of Jeromy Call.   

Inheriting a department at the center of scrutiny is not ideal for anyone, but Sheriff Perry believes he is more than able to tackle the challenges, saying it all starts with transparency and accountability.

"I want to be transparent about things, and I want everything documented, not only for public safety but for officer safety," explained Sheriff Perry.

He says funding to purchase body and dash cameras is already in place - which he believes will promote more transparency among the department and provide a sense of understanding.

"There's just a lot of accountability, things like that, that I want to be documented," says Sheriff Perry. "That way the officer or detention worker, or whoever, if they've got any question, the policy is going to be right there at their fingertips."

Some changes Sheriff Perry plans to enact will be seen by the public - new fencing along the east side of the detention center, the cameras as mentioned above, and some will happen behind closed doors that will ultimately transition to the community.

"We've got a new officer that's over training, and that's going to be part of us making sure that officers get the training they need," Sheriff Perry said. "That way we can recognize if there is a problem along the way, and we can take care of it."

He also said some of these changes will be coming in the short term. "We'll have more deputies out in the community, the patrol areas will increase and hopefully the people that have problems in their area and their neighborhoods will be seeing more deputies on the streets."

But what about long-term changes? Sheriff Perry has the answer.

"I just want it to be a professional agency," said Sheriff Perry. "That's what the people expect, that's what the people deserve."

Sheriff Perry tells 5NEWS that he is not making any significant changes to staff. Instead, he will focus on coaching and training to help promote from within but wants people to know there are still multiple positions open for hire.

Even after just a few days on the job, Sheriff Perry is already looking to the future and the change he hopes to bring.

"I hope they look back and see that we improved, we made Crawford County a better place to raise your family, a better place to live, a better place to have a business," says Sheriff Perry.

He plans to go around the entire Crawford County community, talking with local leaders, listening to their needs, saying, "they know their communities better than I do, and so, I want to have their input. I want to have their involvement in anything that we do to make their community better."

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