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Little Rock mayor and safety officials offer solutions to reduce violent crime

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. speaks about solutions to violent crime, joined by safety officials invested in helping the city.
City of Little Rock
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. speaks about solutions to violent crime, joined by safety officials who he says are invested in helping the city.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. held a public safety press conference Wednesday to address the city’s efforts to respond to violent crime and provide solutions.

According to Assistant Chief Crystal Haskins, the Little Rock Police Department received 24,981 calls in the first two months of this year, meaning they receive about 423 calls every day. Police Chief Keith Humphrey said they are still able to serve the public sufficiently thanks to the versatility of their police officers.

Officers have made 1,173 arrests so far this year, with 314 of those being on felony charges. The department is working to crack down on domestic violence cases, he said, which played a role in four homicides this year and eight last year.

Humphrey stressed that officers know the importance of responding to domestic violence. Officers who are assigned to schools utilize a program called Handle with Care, which enables them to distribute resources that victims need more efficiently.

“We’ve been doing this for a while now. This was instituted by the officers who felt like we needed to do more,” Humphrey said.

Scott said the city is working to implement programs to 10 additional groups that have been awarded close to $2 million through the federal American Rescue Plan.

“What we want to do is continue to ensure that not only are we focused on proactive policing, but also prevention and intervention in treatment programming, to ensure that we’re focused on systemic root causes and save our generations,” Scott said.

The mayor emphasized the importance economics plays in reducing the crime rate, saying that neighborhoods with a low crime rate have people who have jobs. He wants the city to focus on job training and job accessibility.

Little Rock is re-launching the Summer Youth Employment Program which was put on hold after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program gives young people the opportunity to discover careers and earn money over the summer.

“We want to make sure that we have 600 jobs for our youth to ensure that they are being active, productive, and they are also being paid to ensure that they are learning not only soft skills but hard skills to prepare them for their future,” Scott said.

The city is also partnering with the non-profit YouthBuild to help teach young people skills to get more apprenticeships and job training, Scott said.

Daniel Breen is News Director for Little Rock Public Radio.
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