LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Some city leaders we spoke to today say we are beyond prevention and what is happening in Little Rock is a crisis in its own right.
Little Rock City Ward 2 Director Ken Richardson says the solution to solving the problem isn’t to hire more cops.
“We can’t control our way out of this,” Richardson said. “It’s not going to happen.”
Rather, he says, it starts by bringing back what he calls “crisis response teams”.
“Engage with people who can help resolve these minor conflicts,” said Richardson.
People taking to the streets who can really identify with the community and help young people who only have free time.
“We have a number of young people here who are offline, unemployed, underemployed and have access to guns,” Richardson said.
Richardson says he’s not sure city funds for Prevention, Intervention and Treatment, or PIT, are reaching the right people: the 18 to 25-year-olds who are simply disconnected.
“Not educationally prepared, not socially prepared, not professionally prepared,” Richardson said.
He says what is happening now reminds him of gang violence in the 90s.
He says those crisis programs were working then and can work again.
“We’ve had people here in the community who intervened in these crises, these conflicts long before they turned into these silly criminal activities,” said Richardson.
So what’s stopping him?
“But until we started letting politics interfere with the funding of these programs, it interrupted what I thought was a truly successful model that we had put in place,” said Richardson.
Earlier today, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. tweeted that most of this year’s 27 homicides were related to illegal guns and domestic violence.
His office clarified the term “domestic violence” to only refer to people who know each other, which is similar to what Richardson said: people who know each other who don’t know how to resolve conflict without violence.