The mayor sez... | Arkansas Blog

The mayor sez...

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Two years ago in August, Little Rock voters made its mayor strong, with more power and significantly more money.

Today, Strong Mayor Stodola distributes the first of what he says will be biweekly reports on the state of things.

Here, he touts the dramatic improvement in public safety, as measured by crime rate. He describes police response to hot spots of crime as well. He might get a demurrer on that from the woman, who, according to a neighborhood watch e-mail I received, was mugged last night on the way to her car on a grocery store parking lot.

Anyway, the Stodola report ...

Message from the Mayor
 
Crime Rates See Big Drop – Good News To Report
 
The numbers are in for 2008 and Little Rock has experienced a substantial decrease in both violent crimes and property crimes.
 
Compared to the previous year, the overall violent crime rate was down 21.19% and the property crime rate was down 6.97% from the previous year.
 
Of particular note, within these statistics, homicides were down 29.63%, robberies were down 20.02%, aggravated assaults were down 23.83%, burglaries were down 9% and thefts were down 6.25%.
 
The Little Rock Police Department should be commended for their efforts in this regard.  It is evident that both Operation Quiet Nights (focusing on violent crimes) and Operation Phoenix (focusing on burglaries) are having a positive impact.  Let’s hope these numbers continue to hold through the 2009 calendar year.
 
While this is very encouraging news, particularly since the Pulaski County Jail remains closed to non-violent offenders, as neighbors we must continue to look out for one another. We must remain vigilant in calling the police about suspicious activities occurring in our neighborhoods.  Please don’t hesitate to call 911 if you are witnessing suspicious activity.
 
On a related note, I often receive emails offering comments and suggestions on ways our Police Department should regularly patrol the various neighborhoods in our city.
 
LRPD adheres to a philosophy of random patrols for its patrol units, with the officers circulating throughout their district in order to cover all the territory.  Intentionally, this circulation does not follow a consistent pattern; therefore offenders cannot predict when an officer will be in a particular area. 
 
While this is an effective means of patrol, one of the consequences is that citizens cannot predict when they will see the officer assigned to the neighborhood, giving the illusion at times, that no officer is patrolling the area.  This is not the case.
 
Also, when our Crime Analysis Section detects a “hot spot” area, Chief Stuart Thomas responds in a variety of ways. These strategies include assigning additional cars to patrol the area, pulling in officers and detectives to work overtime on auto break-ins and burglaries, staking out suspects’ residences and monitoring bait cars.  Bicycle officers may also be deployed depending on the particular facts of the situation.
 
The recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has $3.25 billion available for Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) and other criminal justice assistance grants. The City will be applying for additional funding and I will be happy to keep you updated on our efforts to get even more police officers on our streets.
 
 
Jail Funding
 
On a positive note, the Pulaski County Quorum Court recently appropriated approximately $1.2 million for an additional 100 beds at the County jail. This will increase the bed capacity to 980. Also, with the passage of Act 209 of this session of the General Assembly, a total of $20 for each fine can now be assessed in the courts of Pulaski County for jail funding. This should raise enough money for an additional 75-80 beds before the end of the year. Sheriff Doc Holladay is immediately hiring and training jailers for this ramp up. Also, by the end of the year, Pulaski County will have another million dollars freed up with the pay off of an outstanding bond issue. The hope is that this additional money can then be made available for the jail to bring it back up to its current capacity of 1130 beds.
 
Finally, State Representative Allen Kerr has filed a bill HB1590 in the state legislature to increase the amount of funding the state provides to county jails from $28 per day per prisoner to $40. Since the county holds an average of 150 state prisoners daily, the increased revenue generated by this bill would greatly benefit the funding of the Pulaski County Jail. Please call your state representatives and state senators and ask them to vote for this important bill.
 
I hope this update has been informative and helpful.  Please continue to let me know your thoughts on important issues facing our city.  Also, I would like to ask you to forward this email to the people in your address book who may also want to know this information.  They may sign up to receive future Messages from the Mayor by following the link below. If you wish to have your address deleted from future emails please follow the link below and click the “unsubscribe” button.
 
Thank you so much.
 
Sincerely,
 
Mark Stodola
Mayor

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