- Associated Press - Sunday, July 13, 2014

PARAGOULD, Ark. (AP) - Sergeant Bradley Snyder of the Paragould Police Department walks in with a bag of old police patches and badges and sets a worn and beaten pool cue hacked off at the handle on the desk.

“See, this was made into a baton,” Snyder told the Paragould Daily Press (http://bit.ly/1pSxSyA). A 14 year veteran of the department, Snyder, a Lake City native, was named the 2010 Law Officer of the Year by the Paragould Exchange Club.

He has been collecting artifacts and documented history relating to the department for a museum the city plans to install in the lobby of City Hall in downtown Paragould.

“Originally it started out with the idea of just putting up pictures of different officers in the front area. But you know, over time it became too difficult to do because the department became too big and it was just too difficult to get all our officer together at one time for a photo. Inevitably we always missed someone in those group shots so we pretty much just stopped doing it,” said Todd Stovall, Paragould chief of police.

“We’ll have people come in here once in a while and see a picture up somewhere and say, ‘Hey, who’s that guy with the mustache?’ Well, half the guys in the department have mustaches so it is real difficult to maintain and document who is who in all the pictures.

“Then Brad came up with this idea of the museum and I thought it was a great one. It started out as a snowball effect. Soon, Brad started getting more and more information and old things from the department’s past like those old patches and badges. He’ll bring things in for us to see here when he finds something new and we’re all real excited to see the stuff when he gets it.”

Still, it has been an uphill battle for Snyder in acquiring material for the museum.

“All the old stuff is gone from the department. I don’t think the city really has anything anymore,” said Stovall.

Culling artifacts from all across the country, Snyder has collected a near-complete run of Paragould Police Department badges and patches as well as other bits of personal history such as photographs, clothing, identification cards, weapons and personal histories.

Snyder has also helped to develop the Paragould Police Department Archives, a collection of primary and secondary documents pertaining to Paragould law and disorder to be used by historians and interested researchers.

“What Brad is doing is really good, not only for the public, which will now be able to see a documented history of our department, but for our own officers, now and in the future, who will see that we have come a long way through the years. A lot of our new guys don’t realize how good they have it,” said Stovall.

One such example can be found in, ‘The Paragould Police Department: A Humorous, Historical Perspective’ by former Officer Sam Poe when Poe interviewed Ollie Wilhite, a Paragould Patrolman from 1939-1940.

“We had only one patrol car, had to rotate turns to drive it,” said Wilhite.

Poe also discovered that in the early days of the department, “They did not have radios, and if they were out on patrol and the police department received a call that needed investigating, City Light and Water would blink the streetlights and the officers would all head for the station and would then be dispatched to the call.”

Snyder acknowledges Poe’s research, a slim, privately published volume from 1987 as the only work to-date on the history of the department. He hopes to change that.

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