Frank Scott Jr. was one of four mayors on the NewsNation program “Cuomo” Monday evening. In a two-hour special called “Crime in America,” Scott described his three-pronged approach to addressing crime in Little Rock and said there’s no one solution to handle the problem

Host Chris Cuomo threw hard questions at Scott right off the bat, asking how the mayor deals with the perception that Little Rock is one of the “most dangerous places in the country.”

Scott told Cuomo, “Perception, in many people’s eyes, is a reality.” Little Rock is tackling crime from three directions, he said: targeted patrols in crime-heavy areas, better information-gathering through the Real Time Crime Center and prevention programs for the city’s youth. He also said the Little Rock Police Department has established a unit to address the some of the mental health issues that contribute to crime.

As a resident of southwest Little Rock, which Scott described as a “more crime-ridden area of the city,” he doesn’t feel unsafe, he said. However, even with year-over-year crime stats on a downward trend, Scott said, officials need to address people’s feelings about crime regardless of the numbers.

To date, the Little Rock Police Department has reported 34 homicides in 2023. At the end of July 2022, the LRPD reported 48 homicides. The current count is down about 30%. Homicides typically trend upward in the summer months. The LRPD reported two homicides over the weekend and another Tuesday morning.

Scott told Cuomo that addressing crime should include a variety of ideas that are not strictly progressive or conservative, but concepts that are both/and.

“That’s exactly what Little Rockians want,” Scott said. “They want to make certain we have a safe city, but also they don’t want officers cracking heads … for no apparent reason.”

The perception that Little Rock is a dangerous city is strong. In June, the Little Rock Board of Directors voted to extend an existing juvenile curfew to entertainment districts, areas of the city where alcohol may be carried on the streets outside of businesses. Directors said their constituents have told them they’re afraid to travel downtown on the weekends.

City officials also voiced concerns about police being inundated with work. The LRPD, like many other departments across the country, is dealing with staff shortages. The department was short about 90 officers ahead of a recent graduating recruit class.

The full “Cuomo” program isn’t available to view online, but an article published Tuesday morning on NewsNation dove a bit further into the show’s narrative. It cites violent crime statistics from the FBI and quotes local pastors and business managers.

The story, by journalist Brian Entin, lays it on pretty thick:

Little Rock, Arkansas, with a beautiful river running through downtown, seems like a gem in the diamond state. However, not far from the Clinton Presidential Library, is one of the most violent parts of the country.

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