One of Bill Hollenbeck's final focuses as sheriff is to help equip schools to address potential threats of violence and health-related issues.
Hollenbeck, who is resigning as sheriff of Sebastian County at the end of 2018, is the sitting president of the Arkansas Sheriffs' Association and director of the Sebastian County Opioid Task Force. In light of these roles, Hollenbeck hopes to help educate schools about active shooter situations and drug abuse in his last months in office.
Sebastian County had some of the worst numbers for opioid abuse in the latest available years for data. The Opioid Task Force, which first met in February, is comprised of pharmaceutical, medical, legislative and law enforcement officials with the goal of decreasing opioid deaths in the county.
Hollenbeck said he has considered partnering with the school systems in Sebastian County to teach students about the dangers of opioid abuse.
"I just want to continue to move forward, and specifically educate the future potential abusers," he said, adding that he hopes the school will help in this education. He said he will bring up the possibility of school education to the task force members at their next meeting.
This idea is part of a larger trend for the task force, Hollenbeck said.
“You’re going to see a more educational component with this task force," Hollenbeck said.
Hollenbeck's other focus — school safety — came into public focus after Nikolas Cruz on Feb. 14 allegedly killed 17 people with a semi-automatic rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Hollenbeck and others like Cpl. Anthony Rice with the Fort Smith Police Department have taught active shooter classes at schools, churches and other local entities this year, some of which were held before the shooting in Parkland.
Hollenbeck said his reach on this topic has extended now that he is president of the Arkansas Sheriffs' Association. He said the governor's school safety task force recommends law enforcement inside schools to ensure safety.
Though Hollenbeck will be working with law enforcement officials from all over the state as president, he said his work in school safety applies on a local level as well. He said his focus will be a continuation of what local law enforcement officials are already doing.
"(We're going to be) ensuring the staff is prepared and equipped to respond in active situations and support any law enforcement agency in Sebastian County that may have a situation such as that," Hollenbeck said.