HOT SPRINGS, Ark.- “Cool Down Hot Springs” is an anti-violence initiative launched by the Hot Springs police department in response to the uptick in violent crime the city has seen over the last few months.
“We’re talking about how do we stop the violence,” says Greg Bearss, pastor at LakePointe City Church in Hot Springs.
Following a recent round table HSPD hosted with city leaders, they came up with a concept and “Cool Down Hot Springs” was born.
The campaign focuses on communication, deescalation, and help.
“I don’t want people to think every time they call the police we’re coming there to arrest somebody,” says Cpl. Joey Williams with HSPD, “maybe it’s just an officer getting involved and providing people with the proper tools.”
Cpl Williams says the city averages between 4-6 homicides a year but is already sitting at 10 with several months to go. The department decided now was the time to act.
It’s more than police though. Schools, mental health facilities and church leaders are also jumping into action.
Bearss is one of those church leaders. “Right now we’re doing a series called family under construction because of that initiative [Cool Down Hot Springs]. We’re looking at how do we build up families in our city.”
Bearss says the church has an important role in creating a shift away from the violence.
“We need to start with the children and teach the kids how to love and bring love to the table instead of violence, instead of a gun… instead of hate.”
Police say mental health is another key issue that is part of the initiative’s focus. Police say this is just the beginning, more round tables are scheduled.
The city also launched a website with tips and resources for people. Police want the community to have the tools to be able to deescalate and resources for domestic and mental health situations. >> https://www.cityhs.net/736/6897/Cool-Down-Hot-Springs?activeLiveTab=widgets