City director says Little Rock should offer better incentives to recruit potential police officers

Mixed reactions from community as Memphis PD recruits in Little Rock

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - You may have heard the ads on the radio or shared on social media that the Memphis Police Department were visiting Little Rock to recruit new officers.

The event drew mixed reactions from the community, as Little Rock Police battle an officer shortage in the wake of a mass shooting.

Four days ago, 25 people were shot at the Power Ultra Lounge Shooting in downtown Little Rock. Many pointed fingers at Little Rock police for not doing enough.            

Some are calling it a slap to the face while others say it is fair game.

"It's ironic at best and insulting at worst," said Little Rock City Director Ken Richardson, who is no stranger to violence.

His district, Ward 2, is facing violent crime, business closings, and home demolitions. He's been outspoken about his hope that the Little Rock will be able to put more officers back on the road soon. Richardson said the lack of community policing in neighborhoods was a "big concern."

"I just think it is really important," he said. "Not just people who police these areas, but police officers that live in the community.”

Richardson explained that he thinks police can not "treat residents" as a friend one day, a suspect the next, and then turn around and expect them to work with officer to solve crimes.

But, the city claimed they have to focus on filling the 75 vacancies first before it can worry about increasing community involvement.

But Memphis police Kevin Moore said they travel to different cities to "fulfill the dreams" of those wishing to become a police officer. The Memphis Police Department offers up enticing incentives to bring people to their force, including pay starting at $40,000 per year.

"We offer college incentive pay, we also offer college reimbursement to further their education, and there's quite a few other different offers we have as well,” Moore explained.

Despite the mixed reaction, Little Rock police say there's no bad blood between departments when it comes to recruiting. Their spokesperson, Officer Steve Moore, said LRPD recruits in Memphis as well.

"We've had, I'm sure, other agencies, larger agencies come in and recruit. We go to towns all across Arkansas and recruit officers also. We will go to places close like Memphis. It's only 2 1/2 hours away. We'll go to Texas, Missouri, somewhere like that and recruit," he said.

But, the officer shortage isn't exclusive to only Little Rock. In March, CBS affiliate WREG reported that the Memphis Police Department lost about 20 percent of its police force in the last five years.

Richardson said if the Little Rock Police Department offered those same incentives, it could better compete with other departments. He plans to bring that up at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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