Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. pledged in a press conference Wednesday to seek an additional salary “step” for Little Rock Police Department officers to help with retention in Little Rock’s 2022 budget, which would require city board approval. He also said he would propose doubling the sign-on bonus for new officers from $5,000 to $10,000.
Scott acknowledged that he campaigned for an additional 100 officers on the LRPD. But he said it was important first to “right-size” the city’s budget. A staffing study of the police department should be completed in the next year, he said.
“We know violent crime has been up,” Scott said. “I can tell you, personally, I know it. Look at a map and see where it is in a city. Your mayor lives in that square box.”
“This is a different time throughout the nation,” Police Chief Keith Humphrey said. “There are a lot of angry individuals.” The city has a conflict resolution issue, which is leading to a rise in homicides. Humphrey said the department had seized 600 illegal weapons this year and arrested 400 individuals in possession of those weapons. Those arrests have prevented homicides, he argued.
The department today unveiled an online reporting tool for citizens to use for certain crimes. That will allow more officers to be on the streets combatting violent crime, Humphrey said.
“In any city, violent crime is caused by a combination of social, structural, and environmental conditions, therefore in order for this plan to be effective, there must be an active participation and investment by everyone in this city,” he said.
Scott also touted the creation of the Office of Neighborhood Safety within the city. Michael Sanders, a veteran of the city’s Community Programs department, is leading the new effort, which has $1.5 million of American Rescue Fund dollars behind it for crime intervention efforts. Sanders outlined existing and coming programs, including services related to youth outreach, re-entry and job placement services