The Town of Benton’s Police Chief is confident that crime has stayed low the past year and is looking ahead to stay proactive.
“Benton is one of the safest small towns,” Benton Police Chief Charles Pilkinton said. “The whole parish is doing pretty well itself, but we’re doing well in our town.”
His department deals mostly with juvenile complaints, domestic calls, shoplifting, animal complaints and speeding. As far as violent calls, those numbers have decreased from past years.
“We had one rape case last year,” Pilkinton said. “We haven’t had any armed robberies or anything like that. We do a lot of domestic violence calls and that’s about it.”
They are, however, “staying on top of” drug-related issues.
“Now days, you don’t see as much crack cocaine as you used to see,” he explained. “Now methamphetamines and prescription pills are a really big issue. We’ve made numerous drug arrests this year.”
Pilkinton said the biggest issue has been with prescription drugs.
“You can get them anywhere. People get addicted to them. Young kids and teenagers use them to get an instant high and it’s a big issue. We’ve seen more of that in recent years than anything else.”
The population in Benton is slowly rising due to the new neighborhoods being built in and around the town. Pilkinton has been the Police Chief for 14 years now and part of the police department for 21 years total. In that time, he has watched the town grow and his responsibilities grow, too.
“We are very proactive in the way we police here,” he said. “We make ourselves known in the neighborhoods and on the streets. We stay pretty busy up here with the influx of people coming in.”
One way they stay proactive is through training.
“You have to keep up with what’s going on in the world,” he explained. “There’s online crimes, more fraud, more scams, terrorism and active shooters. You have to train and be prepared for that. It may never happen, but you don’t want to get caught in a situation and not know what to do.”
Pilkinton said he will more than likely have to add numbers to his force. Right now, the Benton Police Department has six on staff, not counting the chief’s position.
“Eventually we will have to add employees to our department with the growth of these subdivisions,” he said. “That’s not something I’m looking to do in the next year or two, but probably five or six years down the road.”