Crime fighting -- UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Crime fighting -- UPDATE

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Haven't seen the paper yet, so this may have come up at City Hall yesterday, but I was forwarded a message from City Director Stacy Hurst that says Little Rock will follow North Little Rock's example and lease some space from Faulkner County to jail people turned away from the Pulaski County lockup. The city should be able to start using the 30 beds next week.

I'm expecting to visit today with Mayor Mark Stodola, who's making media rounds to discuss crime and jail issues.

UPDATE: I caught some of Stodola's pitch on the radio this morning. Message: We care. He says a new recruit class is about to put more cops on the street (but still dozens shy of top staffing during the golden days of the Clinton administration, when the feds were pumping money into community policing.) He vows tough curfew enforcement to target juvenile crime and a variety of task forces aimed at special enforcement needs. But, in the end, it's mostly talk, if with welcome urgency. We need more jail beds. Period. We have hundreds fewer than we had a decade ago. Who's going to do what about that?

UPDATE II: An ad hoc group that includes a couple of state representatives, neighborhood activists and others has begun meeting to brainstorm neighborhood-based ways to combat crime. A meeting of the group is scheduled at 6 p.m. tonight at the Willie Hinton Resource Center at 12th and Pine.

UPDATE III: The mayor stopped by as promised. He repeated his multi-point program -- more cops on the street; a broader program for Little Rock-resident cops to take cruisers home at night to increase visibility in neighborhoods (about 60 should be taken home by mid-October); special emphasis policing, such as task forces targeting daytime burglaries, the rise in robberies and nighttime trouble spots; strict curfew enforcement, and a continued push to find ways to create more jail space, including the bunk rental in Faulkner County.

Stodola also is pushing a message that the police are doing good work. Violent crime is actually down this year and arrests up and property crimes only up slightly. But there are still on average more than 10 burglaries and three car thefts a day. The city still views the jail as a county responsibility. Stodola will talk to the Quorum Court and hopes other mayors will so that in budgeting for next year it might pay greater attention to solving the issue.


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