FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Thursday, Jul 20, 2017
City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421
Media ReleasesContact(s): Bryan Griffith, Assistant to the Mayor | (o) 501 371-6888 |(c) 501 912-7786
Mayor details six pillar LR for Life Violence Reduction Plan
LITTLE ROCK (July 20, 2017) – Mayor Mark Stodola spent over an hour Thursday afternoon in the rotunda of City Hall laying out the City of Little Rock’s new comprehensive effort to reduce violence in the city. Dubbed “LR for Life,” the strategy and action plan consists of six pillars including: Stop the Violence; Strengthen the LRPD; Improve Our Criminal Justice System; Invest in Prevention; Promote Jobs, Opportunity and Education; and Rebuild the Neighborhoods.
Mayor Stodola noted that Little Rock is not alone in the city’s recent uptick in violent crime with urban areas across the country seeing a surge in violence. However, he took an optimistic tone stating, “We are in this together, and together we can tackle these problems, improve the lives of our people and continue making our city a better place to live.”
The LR for Life plan can be viewed in its entirety here. <https://www.littlerock.gov/media/2815/lr_for_life_handout_final.pdf>
The plan utilizes multiple facets and disciples of city government and the community working in coordination with one another. Stodola remarked that the plan incorporates both existing and new programs, as well as expansions of others.
Under the Stop the Violence pillar, a key new program modeled after successful programs in other cities is Ceasefire Little Rock, which utilizes violence interrupters with street credibility, independent of law enforcement, to intervene in confrontations before they turn violent and link high risk individuals to needed social services in an effort to push them toward a different path.
When detailing the Strengthen the LRPD pillar, Mayor Stodola emphasized the need to close the gap in police officer recruitment stating that, “Little Rock city government understands that violence and crime will not and cannot be stopped by putting a police officer on every corner, but the current vacancies at LRPD are hampering the department’s efforts to deploy more community policing strategies.” He was optimistic about progress being seen as a result of the transformation of the City’s recruitment and hiring process launched in March stating that 18 recruits will graduate the Academy on August 4 and upwards of 60 coming in the classes starting August 21 and November 21, with another class starting in February 2018. To bolster recruiting of already certified officers in other cities and surrounding states, Stodola announced that he has directed Ctiy Manager Bruce Moore to engage and advertising firm to aggressively recruit in the region.
Stodola also announced some strategies for Improving Our Criminal Justice System that stemmed from his Capital City Crime Prevention Task Force including a forthcoming ordinance requiring certain business to have video surveillance and aggressive Federal gun crime prosecutions in conjunction with the Prosecuting Attorney and U.S. Attorney’s office, as well as an effort at encouraging greater citizen cooperation by better protecting witnesses who do choose to come forward.
Stating directly that Little Rock “cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” the mayor laid out a complete picture of all of the programs the City provides to Invest in Prevention. These included a call to the community to do more to hire young people in summer jobs, as well as “provide a positive role model” by serving as a mentor in one of the community’s many mentoring programs.
In introducing the Promote Jobs, Opportunity and Education pillar, Mayor Stodola repeated his often stated belief that: “People need the tools to succeed. They need to recognize their own worth. To change direction away from crime they need to have something too important to lose – a job.” In furtherance of this mission, he discussed the myriad of job skills training opportunities available to citizens of Little Rock and put a particular emphasis on the efforts the City makes to reach out and support those who have been incarcerated, lamenting the fact that upon leaving inmates are “given $100 and a bus ticket.” He enthusiastically announced that the City’s Workforce Development Board had recently received a grant to launch their “Rock City Re-entry” program that will be able to provide wraparound services and job training for upwards of 150 formerly incarcerated individuals to help them successfully re-enter society.
Finally, Mayor Stodola spoke about the need to Rebuild the Neighborhoods so that citizens have neighborhoods they can be proud of, encouraging them to step in when something does not look or feel right. In doing so, he detailed the many efforts of the city to “fight the blight” including a new program this fall that utilizes 30 AmeriCorps members as a Neighborhood Safety Corps to renovate houses throughout the city. He also mentioned programs such as Love Your Block and LRPD’s Neighborhood Watch program as areas where citizens can be directly involved.
In wrapping up, Mayor Stodola acknowledged that city government cannot tackle the challenge of violent crime alone and neither can individuals working in silos, “But, by working together – using wise investment and implementing smart policies, along with some prayer and God’s grace, we can succeed! The power is in our community partnership—Little Rock for Life.”