Public Safety Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022
Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. emphasized the major components of his Crime Reduction Strategy at a community Public Safety Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. Mayor Scott, representatives from the Little Rock Police Department , the Department of Community Programs and the H.O.P.E. Advisory Council shared their thoughts on the work being done to reduce violence and make neighborhoods safer.
City of Little Rock Violence Reduction Efforts
Violent crime increased across the United States over the last few years because of factors ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to the increased proliferation of illegal guns in communities. Unfortunately, as Arkansas’s state capital and largest city, Little Rock experienced higher crime rates in 2020 and 2021.
As a result of the national trends, Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. and the City of Little Rock implemented a comprehensive, multi-faceted violence reduction strategy earlier this year. The strategy invests money and resources into both short-term and long-term responses to violent crime. Through 2022, incidents of violent crime have decreased compared to 2021 because of the ongoing commitment by Mayor Scott, the Little Rock Board of Directors, Little Rock Police Department and countless others to make Little Rock a safer city.
With a unified approach to addressing the underlying causes of crime, the City of Little Rock and its residents are making a difference. Utilizing data from the Citi Stat Report on Crime for the City of Little Rock, Mayor Scott’s crime reduction strategy was crafted and consists of major investments in three core areas: (1) Policing; (2) Programming; and (3) Community Involvement:
- Recruiting qualified law enforcement officers is a priority of Mayor Scott and LRPD
- New officers receive a $10,000 signing bonus – the largest in the state of Arkansas
- The “Build a Better Blue” initiative highlights LRPD’s innovative approach to recruitment and its goal to maintain a diverse police force that reflects the community it serves. Visit BuildaBetterBlue.com for more information.
- Targeted patrols in higher-crime areas
- Uniformed and covert officers in marked and unmarked patrol units focus on specific areas
- Increased overtime allocations ensure LRPD has the staffing and resources to ensure public safety
- Creation of a Real-Time Crime Center, a hub within LRPD to immediately analyze video and other data from across the City to assist in law enforcement efforts and respond to crime trends
- The City Board of Directors set aside $1.5 million for the center, with more funding to come from American Rescue Plan Act dollars
- Maintaining a police staffing level higher than the national average
- Currently, there are 2.6 police officers for every 1,000 residents. The national average is 1.6.
- The Gun Crime Intelligence Unit tracks firearms evidence and links shootings that involve the same weapons to assist in investigations
- LRPD established a new social work program – the first of its kind in the state – to work with at-risk individuals who are susceptible to violence, either as potential offenders or victims
- LRPD has four social workers and violence intervention specialists, with more planned in coming months
- The YourLRPD app (download from Google Play or the App Store) connects law enforcement to the community, providing real-time updates about service calls and allowing users to submit tips or information
Mayor Scott and the City Board of Directors authorized $1.5 million earlier this year to fund four distinct areas of programming that addresses violent crime in Little Rock. These programs and funding are in addition to other initiatives and community collaborations already in place to curb violent crime and recidivism.
Community Violence Reduction Programs
Arkansas Community Dispute Resolution Centers
Support for conflict resolution, anger management, restorative justice mediation at Southwest High School, as well as peaceful parenting courses, and targeted efforts in coordination with the Little Rock Police Department and the City of Little Rock Office of Community Programs.
Rights after Wrongs
A community event in which a network of attorneys, social service agencies, civic groups, faith-based institutions, public and private entities, and volunteers come together to provide citizens with a variety of needed resources and assistance.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas
Increasing the number of qualified adult volunteers to mentor children, and building creative multi-level collaboration with community partners to serve an additional 1,000 Little Rock youth.
Boys & Girls Club of Central Arkansas
Developing and implementing monthly therapy sessions with a licensed mental health professional that rotates between the four clubs located in Little Rock.
Support for a workforce and career readiness program to youth and young adults.
Strategies and tools for healthy youth development and community-based interventions by focusing on supporting youth to reach their full potential.
Funding for therapists to target mental health needs of at least 400 individuals from pre-school to adult.
Support for life skills and workforce readiness services to men and women recently released from Re-Entry Programs at the Pulaski County Jail.
Criminal record expungement services, job placement, career counseling, and life management skills.
UNITY Martial Arts
Establishment of an after-school martial arts program at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School for the 2022-2023 school year.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Support for a hospital-based violence intervention program
Neighborhood Safety Programs
Day Labor Program
Offering work opportunities for individuals who may traditionally face barriers to entering employment, providing necessary on-the-job training and access and information about wraparound services such as childcare assistance, transportation, mental health services, healthcare and food security.
Bridge 2 Success
Providing instruction on healthy living, drug/alcohol prevention and offering recreational programs to encourage healthy lifestyles.
Structured sessions to provide youth with exposure to the arts and with cultural enrichment through visual, music, dance, literary and performance art.
Urban League of Little Rock
Technology education for 10th grade students through a curriculum related to drone operations, robotics coding and other technologies.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Arkansas
Thrasher Boys and Girls Club program to encourage positive self-identity, health and well-being, positive values, commitment to learning, social competency and family engagement. Additionally, T. Rich Foundation, Inc. provides tutoring, counseling and other programs, including business development training, virtual enrichment sessions and film workshops dealing with ongoing social issues.
McMahan Counseling Services
Empowering caregivers and their children to improve skills in social and emotional learning, life skills and improved relationships.
City-operated program to provide free, recreational access in a safe environment.
Positive Prevention Programs
Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Arkansas
Programs at Mitchell, Penick and Whetstone Boys and Girls Clubs provide youth with academic assistance, skills to encourage positive behaviors and improve overall health and training in STEM.
Creative arts-based learning and academic enrichment for children ages 6-11.
Life Skills For Youth
Leadership development, community service and cultural enrichment programming for children and youth
Academic assistance, cultural enrichment, and life skills training for children and youth ages 6 to 17
Little Rock Police Department Community Programs
Partnerships with local organizations and churches to present frank discussions on policing and crime in a Town Hall-style format.
Gun Buy Back
Program aimed toward taking guns off the streets. Most recently, a Gun Buy Back program in the summer of 2022 resulted in 40 guns being turned in, in exchange for gift cards purchased by a nonprofit organization.
A program designed to encourage conflict/dispute resolution among young people ages 15-25. The program is in partnership with the Arkansas Community Dispute Resolution Centers. The 2022 class graduated with 185 participants who learned to foster positive relationships through peaceful conflict resolution.
Police Interactions Class
Spanish-language course offered to the community at no cost, educating residents on how best to report and respond to violence.
The H.O.P.E. Initiative is a special program under Mayor Scott’s “Crime Reduction Strategy” that targets crime through a community involvement approach. This initiative, which stands for Holistic Outreach and Prevention in Every neighborhood, will focus on addressing and transforming the harmful conditions that perpetuate the symptoms of violence and crime in Little Rock.
H.O.P.E. Advisory Council
As part of the H.O.P.E. Initiative, Mayor Scott formed the H.O.P.E. Advisory Council that consists of a total of 14 neighborhood residents, community leaders, and government officials tasked with recommending ways to prevent crime by focusing on prevention, intervention, and treatment approaches. Members of the council were divided into three subcommittees: (1) Policy Subcommittee; (2) Community Safety Programming Subcommittee; and (3) Built Environment Subcommittee. Each subcommittee will produce a list of recommendations compiled into a final report that will be submitted to Mayor Scott and the City Board of Directors.
H.O.P.E. Advisory Council Members
- Ward 2 City Director Ken Richardson, Council Chair
- Leta Anthony, Policy Subcommittee Chair
- Michael Sanders, Community Safety Programming Subcommittee Chair
- Pastor Mark DeYmaz, Built Environment Subcommittee Chair
- Judge Melanie Martin
- Judge Leon Johnson
- Kambrei Charles
- Yolanda Harrison
- Dana Dossett
- Tim Campbell
- Mallory Visser
- Pastor Billy Burris
- Reggie Swinton
- Shanelle Smith
City Staff Liaison
- Christopher Harvey, Senior Advisor to the Mayor
Final Recommendations Presentation
Members of the H.O.P.E. Advisory Council presented their final recommendations before the City Board of Directors during the November 29, 2022 agenda meeting. Please see the final report below in pdf form.