LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. is looking forward to his plans for the next year as mayor.
One major move was made on Wednesday morning as he hired Interim Police Chief Heath Helton as the permanent Chief for LRPD.
“I think leadership stabilizes the police force,” the mayor said.
Unfortunately, 2022 has marked a historic year for homicides in the capital city. Right now, Little Rock sits at 79 for 2022. The mayor said this is extremely frustrating for him.
“Believe me, as someone who lives in an area that has most of the homicide, it’s personal to me,” Scott said.
Scott said he is focused on both short-term and long-term goals to address this, noting the Real Time Crime Center that he recently started, as well as “YourLRPD” app on cell phones.
The mayor said he is balancing that with prevention and intervention, as well as focusing on mental health.
“We’ve hired on mental health workers for the Little Rock Police Department,” he said.
Scott also said he is focused on getting illegal guns off the streets.
Another big move by the mayor this week was his proposal to increase police salaries in 2023 in the $315 million budget. The board approved this on Tuesday night.
“I believe that’s going to address some of the vacancies that we’ve had, as well as a $10,000 sign on bonus,” he said.
The mayor said he is also looking forward to seeing improvements in the FOIA requests in 2023.
“We made a decision to transition FOIA to the city attorney’s office,” he said. “We’ve seen better efficiencies and effectiveness there.”
One way the mayor intends to create more transparency with the public is through an online checkbook that residents can go online and understand the finances of the city through an open-data portal.
Scott said he is also looking to build better relationships with the board of directors after a year of more division than he would like.
“What happened in the past is in the past and it starts with me as a leader,” Scott said.
Scott said Little Rock residents can look forward to more positive changes in the community specifically related to infrastructure and public works. He is working on revitalizing War Memorial Park and creating a sports complex, as well as sustainable funding for the existing 63 parks we have.
When it comes to infrastructure, Scott said residents can also expect to see improvements there.
“There are some needs in West Little Rock and Midtown that we have to solve as it relates to infrastructure,” he said. “We feel that a funding source to do that is sorely needed.”