Frank Scott, Jr.’s Public Safety Agenda
We are losing too many lives to our streets. We need a mayor with a clear vision for investing in our firefighters and police, fighting violent crime, and giving our youth alternatives to crime. We can’t thrive as a city when our residents do not feel safe, but we also cannot arrest our way out of our public safety challenges. We need a clear, comprehensive vision that includes stronger partnerships with local and federal law enforcement and our community stakeholders.
My public safety agenda reflects the all-hands-on-deck approach we need to secure our communities.
Filling Remaining Vacancies and to Ensure a Fully Staffed LRPD
I won’t use vacant positions to balance the City’s budget, and I won’t wait until crime is out of control before acting. Our focus should be on officer morale and retention, and our recruitment efforts are jeopardized when officers don’t feel like they can build a career in our department. We’ll work with our Department to develop clear career ladders so that we can continue to attract and retain our best and brightest right here in Little Rock.
The next Mayor and Police Chief also have to be laser focused on also revisiting LRPD’s recruitment policies to ensure that the universe of potential applications better reflects the City’s diversity.
Supporting a force of 700 sworn officers by 2022.
Little Rock is still a growing city, and the size of the police force has to keep pace with population. Adding 25 new officers a year and employing enough laterals to make up for natural attrition will grow our force and match our growth.
Working with LRPD Leadership to Create a Career Ladder to Retain LRPD Police Officers
A Scott Administration would encourage our police chief to undertake a full review of LRPD’s current approach to communicating job expectations to officers, expectations around compensation and how raises are determined, and how officers advance in a manner that is communicated directly and clearly to staff.
The next Mayor should also urge the LPRD to explore hiring a staff person dedicated to career counseling for new officers if they do not already have one.
LRPD should also have a clear plan for developing a plan to assess and improve ongoing training curriculum for leadership and staff.
Working with LRPD Leadership to Produce a Clear Plan for Retaining Experienced LRPD Officers and Aggressively Recruiting Experienced Lateral Candidates from other Departments.
There’s a clear imperative to fill all of the current vacancies in the department, but those efforts will be undermined if our police chief can’t retain experienced officers that know Little Rock and understand the job.
LRPD also needs a clear plan for recruiting experienced, lateral officers from other jurisdictions because we don’t want an LRPD that is disproportionately younger, entry-level officers patrolling our most violent neighborhoods.
LRPD also has one of the better compensation and benefits packages in the region that can be leveraged to pull officers from other departments.
Prioritizing the LRPD "Cadet" Program to Ensure a More Diverse LRPD.
Little Rock has to be fully invested in creating a pipeline of future police officers that are from Little Rock and want to serve Little Rock.
For years, police officers took advantage of the cadet program to gain exposure to LRPD right out of high school. We want to encourage as many people as possible to join LRPD, but we must also be intentional about ensuring LRPD’s ranks include people who are intimately familiar with Little Rock’s people and their neighborhoods.
Deepening Recruiting Partnerships between LRPD, Philander Smith, and Arkansas Baptist College
Both of Little Rock’s HBCUs have criminal justice programs, and Little Rock should develop a formal partnership with both institutions’ criminal justice departments where current students can enroll in the cadet program ensuring a pipeline of diverse officers.
Working with the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney to Create Gun Courts that Can Quickly Process Gun Crimes in Little Rock.
When there’s a simple gun crime, there’s value in having a special court docket committed to gun crimes where people can be quickly processed.
Encouraging a Prosecutor-to-Prosecutor Program between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney for the Most Violent Offenders.
The City’s most violent repeat offenders have to be better addressed, and that’ll require an “all-hands-on-deck” approach, which includes deeper partnerships between our county prosecuting attorney and our local United States Attorney.
We’ve seen some major drug busts stem from the LRPD and Pulaski County cooperating with local and federal law enforcement, and the next Mayor has to build on that progress by urging our Prosecuting Attorney to continue to work more closely with our United States Attorney to refer Little Rock’s most violent repeat offenders to the United States Attorney when federal law is implicated.
Launching the "Eyes on the Street" Initiative
No matter how many police officers we hire, the officers can’t be everywhere at all times. And neither can citizens be everywhere at all times. In areas that experience the most crime, the City has to do its job of ensuring that these areas are properly lit.
The City’s already made some progress, but it’s time to not only provide proper lighting to high-crime areas but to apply modern tools like shatterproof cameras for capturing footage of crimes as they happen and technology like ShotSpotter to capture gunshots in real-time and report them to LRPD the time a gun is fired.
Working with LRPD Leadership to Expand the Capabilities of the Violent Crime Apprehension Team
LRPD already has an incredibly team of capable officers that serve in our Violent Crime Apprehension Team or “VCAT”. VCAT has been incredibly successful in getting our most violent, repeat offenders off our streets. Expanding their capabilities and ensuring they have the equipment and the tools they need will be one of my top priorities as Mayor.
Working with Little Rock’s State Delegation to Set No Bail for Repeat Violent Offenders and to Increasing Penalties for Witness Intimidation.
Repeat, violent offenders should see a judge as soon as possible, and the risk of them meeting bail and reoffending is a risk I am not willing to take as Mayor. I will work with our delegation to prohibit bail for repeat violent offenders.
Law enforcement can’t do their jobs if witnesses fear for their lives if they cooperate with law enforcement. I’ll also work with our state delegation to increase the penalties for witness intimidation.
Reimagining Community Policing
Solving crimes requires the trust of citizens and the communities that law enforcement serves. Given recent controversies around community policing in Little Rock, we need to reimagine how we police an increasingly diverse city.
As Mayor, I look forward to working with LRPD leadership to recruit and hire more Spanish-speaking officers, a LGBT liaison for our growing LGBT community, supporting our officers who intervene in cases of domestic violence, and ensuring that our officers receive adequate training in de-escalation tactics and implicit bias. That’s real community policing that looks like the diverse communities LRPD has to serve.
Working with City Attorney, Pulaski County Prosecutor's Office, LRPD, and community-based organizations to develop a citywide community prosecutor program
We also need to reimagine how our relationship between our communities and our County prosecutor through community prosecutor program. Prosecutor’s offices around the country have developed community prosecutor programs designed to build better relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
We can always do more to build more productive relationships between law enforcement and our communities, and that includes working with the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office on community prosecutor programs that can complement LRPD’s community policing efforts.
Creating the Little Rock Community Review Board
As LRPD expands its capacity and deploys more officers, there’s always a risk that a particular officer’s interaction may rub a citizen the wrong way.
We need an independent voice with voices from our neighborhoods and with law enforcement and criminal defense expertise that will be a venue for citizen complaints against LRPD. More cities have moved to independent citizen review models, and as Mayor, I would lead an effort to repurpose our Civil Review Commission into a Community Review Board for police complaints.
Creating the “SafeStreets Little Rock” Program to Engage Former Gang Members to Intervene in the Lives of Little Rock’s At-Risk Youth
The intervenors program is a step in the right direction, but the next Mayor will have to scale up the program to meet the City’s current gang violence challenges. We’ve seen programs like the intervenors work in Boston, Baltimore, and New Orleans, and it can work in Little Rock if we build the program’s capacity by hiring former gang members to help guide our youth away gang activity.
Former gang members know this issue better than anyone else, and having them work hand in hand with my administration linking them to opportunity can make headway in giving our youth alternatives to crime.
Reviewing the Effectiveness of the City’s Youth Intervention Program and Making Recommendations for Expanding the City’s Supports for Our At-Risk Youth
Little Rock has to find ways to wrap its arms around our most at-risk youth, but the City has to invest in what works. That’s the City’s job as a steward of citizens’ tax dollars, and the City has to get it right on what it takes to give at-risk youth as many alternatives to crime as possible.
Within the first 100 days, I would instruct the City to conduct a review of the YIP in consultation with community partners that work the closest with at-risk youth and local experts on what works in intervening in the lives of at-risk youth, and develop a plan for attracting public and private dollars to increase the community’s investment in YIP and ensure that it’s targeted to the most at-risk youth in Little Rock.
Partnering with the Little Rock School District to Develop “The Truancy Project” to Combat Truancy in Little Rock
Truancy isn’t just an issue for LRSD – it’s a community issue and a public safety issue where the City should lead. The City can’t arrest their way out of its public safety challenges. We have to meet our youth where they are.
Addressing issues like truancy that’s a root cause of involvement in gang activity, juvenile crime, and crimes committed as adults is one way for the City to begin to systematically address why crime happens in the first place.
Full Support Of Our Little Rock Fire Department
As the son of a retired Little Rock firefighter, I know all too well the toll that job takes on our firefighters. Our fire department will have a friend in the Scott Administration. I vow to protect their retirement security and give our firefighters the equipment they need to be safe and the resources for mental health supports they need while they’re in the department and during their retirement.