With homicides on the rise, city officials focus on youth programs at monthly safety meeting

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and the Little Rock Police Department met on Wednesday to discuss the city’s monthly safety update. As homicides and robberies continue to rise, officials have focused on the overall decrease in violent crime, which is down 3%.

“We’re safer today than we were last year when it comes to violent crime,” Scott said.

Municipal authorities have implemented various programs to combat violent crime, including educational opportunities and activities aimed at young people. To increase communication between the public and the LRPD, the YourLRPD app was launched on June 16; it has been downloaded about 5,000 times. Also, the Real Time Crime Center is expected to be in effect next week, which will be a game changer. Deputy Chief Constable Heath Helton said.

Brian Chilson
HELTON: Deputy Chief of Police Heath Helton provides updates on the Real Time Crime Center.

As violent crime declines overall, “At the same time, we recognize that statistics and trends don’t really matter to victims of crime,” Scott said.

The homicide rate is up nearly 30% from June 2021.

“With every homicide that’s happened in the city, I personally got a phone call,” Scott said. “It touches me every time. It helps us understand that there is always more work to do because no life should be lost here in the city of Little Rock. Any loss in Little Rock is a loss for all of Little Rock. Rock.

Acting Chief of Police Wayne Bewley reported that of the 44 homicides this year, 31 of them, or 70%, were cleared, meaning the crime was considered solved. This clearance rate is higher than the most recent 2020 national average of about 50%, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The most common obstacle in solving a homicide is the knowledge circumstances, LRPD Spokesperson Mark Edwards said. In many cases, friends don’t want to betray their friends, he said.

The morale of LRPD officers is both hopeful and tired, Bewley said. The implementation of the Real Time Crime Center should provide technology to improve the work of officers, he said.

photo of Wayne BewleyBrian Chilson
HOMICIDE: Acting Police Chief Wayne Bewley addresses the homicide rate in Little Rock.

City-implemented programs also provide youth with education and activities that redirect potential crime to productive alternatives.

A program in partnership with the Little Rock Neighborhood Safety Office and Center for Community Dispute Resolution of Arkansas taught conflict resolution to young people, Scott said. Called “Resolutions University,” the program has graduated 180 college students in anger management and conflict resolution.

Additionally, Scott announced that Midnight Basketball will return to Little Rock at the Dunbar Community Center on Thursday and Friday.

“When you have something to do for our kids in the summer months, it helps spread a lot of stuff,” he said. “They are very productive and active. You are having a lot of fun, but from a very productive point of view.

The HOPE Advisory Council – which stands for Holistic Outreach and Prevention in Every quarter – has come together over the past few months to “bring new ideas – prevention, intervention and treatment – ​​from a community perspective to ensure that all voices are heard,” Scott said.

Over the next three Thursdays, LRPD will hold its quarterly neighborhood meetings beginning with the 12th Street station meeting on July 14 at 6 p.m. On July 21, it will be held at North West station, followed by South West station on July 28. Community members are encouraged to participate.

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