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Little Rock city officials announce creation of youth summer employment program

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Michael Hibblen
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KUAR News
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., seen here on Feb. 16, is hosting weekly press conferences to give the community updates about efforts to decrease violent crime in the city.

In an attempt to lessen the violent crime plaguing Little Rock, city officials have organized efforts to help youth avoid criminal influences and highlighted how integral stolen weapons are to the public health emergency.

Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey announced that the city had reached its 14th homicide this year, compared to 11 last year at the same time.

Michael Sanders, community resources manager for the Office of Neighborhood Safety, joined Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. in his weekly press conference.

Sanders announced the office has been working to finalize community crime reduction contracts. They have been working to fund providers that offer services like anger management, conflict resolution, hospital-based intervention and workplace readiness. The programs are working to finalize their documents and should be functional by April 1.

Beyond those efforts, they have focused on hiring additional staff to tackle things like school-based intervention and additional street intervention. Offers of employment should be made by the end of the week or early next week, according to Sanders.

There are also applications open for a six-week summer youth employment program for people between the ages of 16 to 21 that reside in Little Rock. The program can currently serve between 600 and 1,000 people.

“In an attempt to keep our young people active and productive during the summer months, we currently are accepting applications for our summer youth employment opportunity,” Sanders said.

The program includes an opportunity to work Monday through Thursday, approximately 32 hours per week.

The program is also open for businesses to apply to serve as work sites.

“We want to reiterate just how crucial and critical it is to ensure that our youth and young adults have something to do this summer in a very productive fashion,” Scott said.

The Little Rock police chief said weapons stolen from vehicles are a concerning issue in Little Rock.

“We know that last year 44% of our guns were stolen from vehicle burglaries,” Humphrey said, “Please don’t leave weapons in cars. There are people out here searching for these weapons.”

Little Rock Fire Chief Delphone Hubbard reported a positive response to the resolution passed in February to business owners to help curb loitering. There has been a dramatic decrease in calls to address loitering.

“We are aware that loitering leads to and can lead to unproductive activity in the community,” said Hubbard as he commended the businesses for taking initiative and asking individuals to leave. Those seeking more information about the youth program opportunity can learn more on the city's website.

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