PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A new position created to push back violence in Pine Bluff is looking for applicants after the city council approved half a million dollars over the next five years for the job.
Described as a Group Violence Intervention Director, whoever fills the role will coordinate between every entity working to make Pine Bluff a safer place.
On the streets of Pine Bluff, too many people are dying.
“It’s a regular occurrence now,” lamented Pine Bluff Ward 4 City Councilman Bruce Lockett.
While among the city’s 20 homicides this year are instances of adults killing adults, others are of teens shooting teens.
“Today’s society in this community and many others we are raising killers, and in order to stop that we’ve all got to get in,” Lockett stated.
Getting together to find a solution over the past year, Lockett and other Pine Bluff leaders invited national experts for their advice on what to do.
“All of them came to one conclusion,” Lockett shared. “Get a coordinator in the beginning. They went through maybe a five, ten-year period before they saw that if they would have had this one coordinating director to gather all the information and to work between all the agencies that they would have been much further along.”
The Group Violence Intervention Director is a position created by the city council last week with $500K of American Rescue Plan funding to budget over the next five years.
Whoever will be hired for the position will find grants, coordinate activities, and collaborate between the mayor, the juvenile judge, law enforcement, schools, and nonprofits.
“It should have been happening a long time ago,” expressed Morris Carr who lives in Pine Bluff.
He added, “It’s a good idea because the crime has got out of hand here in Pine Bluff.”
Carr would like to see someone who is strict, perhaps with a law enforcement background, get the job, but the decision will be made by the mayor and a committee who will vet applicants to hire the right person.
With this position, Pine Bluff will be following the footsteps of other cities which have had this role for years. Once someone is hired, one of the first things they will do is tour those cities’ group violence intervention programs to learn what works and what doesn’t.