LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Thursday, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola outlined a new plan to combat violence in the city.
The plan, called “Little Rock For Life”, targets six major issues and promises improvement. In an hour long speech, the mayor explained how he wanted to not only stop existing violence but prevent it from happening in the first place. A common theme was that it’s going to take the whole city to see real change.
“We have to realize there is no quick fix and we have to realize we are in this together,” said Stodola.
Major points of the plan included stopping the violence, strengthening the Little Rock Police Department, improving our criminal justice system, investing in prevention, promoting jobs, opportunity and education, and rebuilding neighborhoods.
A major focus was on hiring more police officers as the department struggles to fill around 70 police positions. The mayor said the city will be offering a $5,000 signing bonus for new recruits and an additional $5,000 sign on bonus for recruits who live in the city.
Another notable effort he is working on involves requiring businesses to have surveillance video capability to help solve crimes easier and to prevent them.
“I’m going to be introducing an ordinance that requires video surveillance cameras in certain businesses such as convenience stores, liquor stores, private clubs, special event centers, and the like,” said Stodola.
He ended the speech with a call for unity and community partnerships because that's what he believes is crucial to making the plan work.
“One person alone cannot solve or be blamed for all these problems,” he said.
THV11 spoke to multiple community members after the speech to get their thoughts. Overall, their tone was more negative than positive.
Reverend Benny Johnson, who works with the group “Arkansas Stop the Violence”, said he doesn’t have confidence in the new plan.
“It’s the same thing over and over,” he said. “Until I see some action, I won’t feel better.”
Another community member, Yolanda Blueford, felt that there weren’t enough new ideas presented.
“He’s reiterating what’s already been out there and what were already seeing,” she said. “What’s going to be different?”
Community member, Brother Larry, said that there were a lot of good things mentioned at the conference, but he isn’t sure they will all play out as planned.
“There are things that just aren’t going to work,” said Larry. “You wanna bring in more police officers in a hostile environment, and putting tension on top of tension doesn’t make sense.”
You can see a full recording of the press conference on THV11’s Facebook Page.