LITTLE ROCK, Ar. – After a violent start to the year, Little Rock city leaders addressed a concerned city to explain what’s being done to curb the crime.
Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. held a news conference Wednesday morning to go over current efforts to address the rise in violent crime the city has seen over the past few months.
During the conference, the mayor announced a series of efforts being undertaken to hit the “root cause of violence”, including the city’s partnership with 11 community organizations and the creation of an advisory board, aptly named “HOPE”.
“It has to be a holistic approach,” Scott explained. “We have to focus on both the short term as well as the long term to truly address systemic root causes.”
The announcements come one day after the Little Rock Board of Directors approved contracts with the agencies to help curb violent crime, with funding coming from the American Rescue Plan set aside last fall. One such community organization focusing on youth and young adults is Brandon House, a cultural and performing arts center that not only offers after-school and break programs but career development and business enrichment as well.
“We want them to know that there’s a place for them,” said Dr. Patrice Bax with Brandon House. “We want to use the arts as a way to allow students to find their voice, find their gifts, their skills, their talents.”
Scott explained most of the violence over the past two years comes from teens and young adults, ages 11 to 25. The city’s latest effort focuses on this population, finding other intervention and development options to give the next generation a way out of the cycle.
Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey also took to the podium to explain the policing side of the issue, with targeted patrols coupled with an effort to remove guns from streets. Both leaders pushed the need for a joint, two-fold approach to crime with police and neighbors working in unison to stop violence before it starts.
“We cannot do this alone as a police department,” Humphrey said.