LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas is taking strides to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of violent criminals.
On Monday, the agency, along with the Little Rock Police Department, announced that the joint effort called Operation Ceasefire led to 61 arrests during the prior week. On the same day, the U.S. Attorney’s Office welcomed a new staff member, hired specifically to deal with cases involving gun violence.
The program is called Project Guardian. Little Rock was one of 12 U.S. Attorney’s office out of 94 in the nation awarded a grant to fund the initiative due to an increased need for gun violence prosecutions.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Little Rock has the highest caseload increase in the nation since 2018, most of those crimes involve a firearm.
Lauren Eldridge oversees this effort and said she was hired under the Project Guardian grant with one goal in mind.
“It needs to stop somehow,” she said. “[We need to]take those people off the streets, and the firearms as well.”
Eldridge’s position will be solely dedicated to dealing with gun violence crimes. Her hope is to prosecute offenders at a higher level.
“A lot of that comes down to whether or not we can punish them with stricter penalties than we may be able to get in state court,” Eldridge said.
While she noted the office will keep tabs on first-time offenders, her main target will be those repeat offenders.
“Taking those people off the streets and to get them out of the community and maybe an organization they may be involved in is very important,” Eldridge said.
The problems won’t go away overnight, but Eldridge said she hopes her new position is a step in the right direction.