LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- You’ve heard the concern as crime rises in Little Rock.
One common complaint: there aren’t enough officers on the street. But now they’re gaining ground, getting 27 steps closer to filling the 80 vacancies at LRPD.
There are 27 new recruits learning to become police officers. If that seems like a lot, it's because it is. This is the first recruiting class since Little Rock hired an outside agency to restructure their hiring process.
THV11 got to meet some them today and asked them what made them want to wear the blue?
"I've seen the recent crime rate in Little Rock rise. I've seen all the violence around, and I figured if there's anything I can do to help the community out,” new recruit, Emanuel Estrada said, adding “Whether it's joining the police force, get educated on what they do and what they do, then teaching the citizens, the people I know, what they go through, what they think, and why they do the reaction they do.”
"I went to UCA for two years, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I went from Physical Therapy, to Business Management, to Public Relations I went for two years, knocked out all my undergrads, but didn't really know what I wanted to do next. I saw the ad on Facebook when one of my friends shared it, and I was like I'm going to go out for the Little Rock Police Department,” said fellow recruit Scottie Lackland, when asked the same question.
THV11’s next question was did they have any hesitations becoming an officer given the recent uptick in violent crimes?
"It's definitely something to be nervous about. I don't feel like you can ever be truly comfortable around a gang or any gang members, but I feel like, regardless, they will put me through the right training. They've set up the right standards. So I feel like that will prepare me for the situation, when it needs to be called,” Estrada said confidently.
"I feel like I'm well prepared. I've seen videos and things like that. I feel like I'm pretty well prepared to see what I'm going to see on the streets,” echoed Lackland, a current National Guardsman and the son of a Crittenden County Captain.
It may only be day three, but these guys have big dreams.
"My one goal for right now is to try out for the swat team. For me, that's my standard, that's my goal. That's what I hope to accomplish one day,” Estrada said, explaining he will wait as long as it takes.
"I want to get the drugs off the street. I feel like the drugs cause a lot of problems. So I really just want to focus on weapons and drugs, getting them off the street,” said Lackland, of his long-term goal to be in the Narcotics Department.
You'll see these new recruits on the streets in February. LRPD has another recruiting class starting in November, with the number one goal of filling up those 80 vacancies, and getting more feet on the streets.