Scrap metal restrictions could tighten in Pine Bluff

Update: No stricter restrictionsfor Pine Bluff scrap metal dealers. At the Tuesday night city council meeting,Mayor Debe Hollingsworth broke the split vote with a vote against the tighterrestrictions.

She said the town doesn'tneed more laws, just to enforce the laws currently in place. That's somethingthe chief of police and recyclers both agree with.

Interim Police Chief, JeffHubanks said, "I have a two part plan to address this and give me 90 days tosee if I can have an impact."

Beaver Johnson ownsJohnson's Metal Recycler's. He says, "I pay my taxes and provide a service andjobs to this community. Why would youwant to drive out a small business from operating in this town."

February 19:

PINE BLUFF (KATV) - In 2011, a new law was passed to crack down on copper theft, intended to discourage the buying and selling of stolen scrap metal. Now, the city of Pine Bluff is looking to add further restrictions on their scrap metal dealers.

Council member, Thelma Walker says manhole covers, copper and other metal theft in the city is "out of hand". She knows personally of homes that have been boarded up because of theft and says the amendment would help clean up the city.

Johnson's Metal Recyclers has been buying scrap metal for 20-years. By law, as trucks line up to unload their metal, the sellers must first provide a photo id, a fingerprint and fill out detailed information about where the metal is from.

All the information goes into a database immediately and law enforcement across the nation has access to it.

But Pine Bluff council member, Thelma Walker is the sponsor of a measure to amend the city ordinance by adding two changes.

1-The dealer must provide a monthly transaction report to the police department. Walker says, "I don't see it as a punishment because of the fact they have to keep records anyway." She continues, "It's easier for the police department to go through reports than it is looking for something specific."

2-If a dealer fails to comply or provides false information they can face a jail sentence (up to 180 days) and up to 1,000 dollars in fines. Walker says, "We have to have something that can hold people accountable if they are in violation."

Beaver Johnson owns Johnson's Metal Recyclers. He says the amendment is a duplication of records, it's time consuming and police already have access to records on a daily bases. "Why wait until the end of the month? It's not going to stop the crime, but we have the tools to catch them." He points, "I have them on video as well as all their personal information when they come to check out. It's all documented and can be used as evidence."

Johnson says the unnecessary proposal makes him want to move to a more business friendly city. "Let's not rewrite the book on how to catch bad guys."

The city council is scheduled to vote on the amendment at the Tuesday night meeting. Channel Seven will update the story when information is available.