The city of Pangburn has started the new year with a new police chief, and city officials did not have to look far to find her.
Chrystal Bonner has been with the city for four years as a police officer, Mayor Mike Marsh said. “The last three years, she was our sergeant on patrol, and now she’s been elevated to the new police chief. I think it’s very exciting. There has never been a female police chief in the city of Pangburn, ever. So we’re breaking new ground.
“We’re excited. I’m excited because she already knows the town, the people. There’s a learning curve stepping up to be the chief, but as far as knowing the town and everything, it is a smooth transition.”
Bonner takes over for William Miller, who retired. Marsh said Bonner and another patrol officer will be full time for the city, which also will have a part-time officer and “maybe an auxiliary officer.”
Bonner said she graduated from Bradford High School in 1997. After high school, she said she started in dispatch at the Bald Knob Police Department and she also worked for the Bradford Police Department for a while.
“I was elected Jackson County constable in 2010,” she said. “I actually still am the constable. I went to Prairie County [to work in dispatch] for a little bit and then when Chief Miller started here, I applied and came up here four years ago.”
As far as stepping into the chief’s job, Bonner said “the past four years, I’ve gotten to know pretty much everyone that lives in town. I know their kids. We do functions at the school, do functions with the fire department and I’m also a first responder. We are slowly getting more city activities for kids and adults.”
Bonner said she feels “very honored” to be the city’s first female police chief. “My dad [Claude Money] was police chief for several years at Bradford. He actually just retired this past July.”
Bonner said she actually took over duties as chief starting Friday afternoon. “City Hall is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and right now, due to being short-staffed, I’m pretty much here 8 to 10:30 [p.m.] and on call whenever they need me.”
Asked if she has checked to see how many other female police chiefs there are in Arkansas, Bonner said “I have not. That has never occurred to me. I’m literally just trying to do a job and make it better than what I came into.”
Gary Sipes, executive director of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police, said there are “a handful” of female police chiefs in the association. “I mean, that’s just a very small amount of chiefs that are a member of our association.”
In the history of the county, White County Sheriff Phillip Miller recalled that Ann Cook, who was a Beebe police officer, was a chief of police in McRae.
Concerning things Bonner will have to know about being the chief, she said there are courses she can take and “also, the former chief showed me several things and then we have some great chiefs in White County, Judsonia, Higginson … they are all volunteering to help me with anything that I need.”
Goalwise, Bonner said she wants “more involvement with the community. Right now, officers are looked down on, we’re not really liked very well in general. Here, I don’t have a doubt that I have the support of the citizens; several of them told me to put in for it [the police chief’s job].”
“I want to thank the community for giving me the chance for this position,” Bonner said. “I hope to continue on making it better. Anytime I am needed, they can call me. I have a work cellphone that I have given the number out to everyone for the past four years.”