LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The discussion about crime in Little Rock has moved beyond City Hall.
The Little Rock Mayor and Chief of Police heard from people Saturday who are worried about the rise in crime among young people. This was the second time city leaders meet with neighbors.
This time in the neighborhood where a lot of the crime is taking place and with school coming to an end, neighbors are concerned about what programs will keep youth busy and out of trouble. More than 30 Little Rock natives discussed employment, mentorships, and programs geared to lowering the amount of crime and violence in the city's black communities.
Just 12 years ago Earl Williams lost three of his sons due to violence. He believes more funding from the city is needed for kids without fathers.
"We need to show more love to our young black males because they don't have no idea what's down the road,” Williams said. "A lot of these kids grew up, don't have a father and they don't really understand the consequences of their actions.”
So far 21 homicides have occurred in Little Rock. The city said they invest more than $5 million from its budget towards prevention, intervention, and treatment for youth, but neighbors said it doesn't target critically at-risk youth, gangs or their members.
"What you guys [city] are doing is two different things than what's going on in the streets,” A neighbors said. “If you guys were doing what you were doing, then we wouldn't have to be here."
A substitute teacher for the Little Rock School District, Vincent Tolliver said better relationships are needed between police and kids in schools.
"The reach that's really needed for a lot of these children is the education piece," said Tolliver.
For now, ideas are written on paper and neighbors are left looking for solutions. Hoping to lower the high number of crime and violence in their community.
"You can't control water, and you're not going to be able to control violence,” Williams said. “Unless you give somebody something to create a livelihood for them because a person that ain’t got nothing he doesn't care about nothing or nobody."
Another meeting is scheduled for next Saturday. City leaders will take what ideas and suggestions that were offered and try to form a plan. The city hires more than 700 minors in their summer programs. They suggest more businesses take part in hiring more youth during the summer.
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