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Council, community programs aim to curb youth violence in Little Rock

Daniel Breen
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. addresses reporters at City Hall Wednesday alongside members of the newly-formed HOPE Council.

Little Rock’s mayor has announced the members of a new panel focused on reducing violent crime among young people in the city.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. on Wednesday named his appointments to the 17-member HOPE Council, which stands for “holistic outreach and prevention in every neighborhood.”

“The HOPE Council will work with the City of Little Rock as we find innovative ways to reduce crime and protect our neighborhoods. I’m eager to get to work with this exemplary group as we get started to continue our dual approach of both proactive policing and prevention intervention,” Scott said.

The council is made up of community leaders, including people from faith-based organizations, law enforcement and the judicial system. Among the members are City Director Ken Richardson, Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey and nonviolence activist and former NFL player Reggie Swinton.

The mayor also praised the city Board of Director's action to allocate over $317,000 to eight new community programs, which he says will help address some of the root causes of violent crime among young people.

“These 12-month contracts with various nonprofits in our city will create opportunities for our youth in arts and culture, tutoring, academic enrichment and other areas like hospital-based intervention,” Scott said. “These programs and the money already set aside from the American Rescue Plan funds demonstrates the city’s commitment and determination in addressing this uptick in crime.”

Scott also credited Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Corrections Secretary Solomon Graves for their announcement Tuesday of a new program to increase supervision of some high-risk parolees. The program will add 10 parole supervision officers to supervise offenders in five central Arkansas counties.

“It’s going to have a huge impact in Little Rock because we tend to have more parolees that are housed in the City of Little Rock than any other city in the State of Arkansas,” Scott said.

He also announced on Wednesday the Little Rock Police Department has hired two part-time social workers to help people experiencing mental health issues. Chief Humphrey also said new technology to monitor and deter crime in real-time is in the works.

“We should have a real-time crime center. We are in the early stages of discussing that and working on that, we believe that our new police headquarters will be an amazing place to house that, so more about that will be coming in the near future,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey says, of the 17 homicides reported in Little Rock since the beginning of the year, police have arrested suspects in 13 cases. He encouraged members of the public to reach out with tips at (501) 371-INFO.