LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Mayor of Little Rock is at work figuring out where extra dollars might be in the budget to bring additional resources and equipment to the city’s police department.
“Public safety has been a pillar for not only my campaign, but now as I govern as the city’s mayor,” says Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.
Mayor Scott says he wants to take Little Rock Police into a new era by hiring 100 additional officers in the next four years and purchasing body cameras.
“We can’t spend what we don’t have but I’m a firm believer in your budget reflects your priorities and where your values are,” says Mayor Scott.
The 2019 budget has already been approved, but the mayor says he will ask the Board of Directors to amend it to bring on an extra 20 officers this year.
“There are a lot of areas of improvement within our existing budget,” says Mayor Scott.
The starting salary for a new officer just over $43,000 a year. If you multiply that by 20, it’s just under $1 million total. That does not include an officer’s benefits, gun or other police equipment.
Mayor Scott says the additional hires help chart out the department’s path of true community policing.
“I’m willing to make certain that we adjust the current city budget to reflect the priorities of this city and public safety is number one,” says Mayor Scott.
It’s unknown where the adjustments in the budget will come from yet.
These additions come at a time when the mayor says the board will have to approve taking out a short-term note to help pay to replace police and fire radios which will cost more than four million dollars over the next three years.
Police sources say most radios are approaching their ‘end of life’ and there’s no guarantee when police or fire radios break they can be replaced.
The mayor says the note can be paid back over time through the existing budget and the city can resort to other available resources if needed.
It’s too soon to know how much the body cameras will cost, but the city just put a bid out to contractors to get cost estimates.
The mayor says the city is looking at purchasing body cameras for all officers who work on the streets which could be between 250-400 but the majority of the cost will come at storing the video.
Mayor Scott says he’ll act in deliberate haste to amend the 2019 budget so Little Rock Police can hire the additional 20 officers.