Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. is proposing that at least $1 million in federal COVID-19 aid for the city be redirected toward community violence intervention.
Scott plans to make the proposal before the Little Rock Board of Directors on Tuesday night. His plan was revealed in a Twitter message released Monday following a weekend of violent shootings in the city.
“These funds will allow us to create a comprehensive team of independent community specialists that will work to combat youth violence,” Scott said.
The city is expecting roughly $37 million from the federal government. On Tuesday, Scott released the following statement:
“I’m extremely saddened and angered by the violence that took place in our city over the weekend. To the families whose loved ones died at the hands of someone else, I offer my deepest condolences. I’m praying for you. We have endured too much senseless death and harm in Little Rock, and while we have seen a downward trend in violent crime since May, we must do more to put a stop to it all.
“I appreciate the Little Rock Police Department, which has put in place a strategy that has led to the decreasing violent crime—the ceasefire initiative and the joint task force with federal partners. We’ve experienced a 1%-2% drop in violent crime each week since the last week of May; however what Little Rock is enduring is not solely an enforcement issue. We must employ strategies that intervene before a gun is cocked. To that end, I will propose to the Little Rock Board of Directors that the city use at least $1 million of our share of American Rescue Plan Act funds for community violence intervention. These funds will allow us to create a comprehensive team of independent community specialists that will work to combat youth violence. We also have hired a social worker within LRPD to respond to issues that may be better suited for a mental health professional. This person will work alongside officers to coordinate resources for residents who need them, in hopes of avoiding future violence in crisis situations or domestic disputes.
“Unfortunately, what’s happening in Little Rock is not unique. Many cities across the country are experiencing increased violence. It’s shameful that we are losing so many youth to violence and street life. For Little Rock and the families who call our community home, we can solve this problem. We will solve this problem.”