After a month and a half without a homicide, Little Rock Police responded to the city's 46th homicide of the year on Tuesday. They still need the public’s help to solve it, but overall police are happy with the decrease in violent crimes in this violent year.
The department credits its mandated overtime, help from churches and other groups and the community getting more involved in helping solve crimes as the reason for the decrease.
"We’ve seen more support from the community, we’ve seen more help from the community," said Lieutenant Steven McClanahan with the Little Rock Police Department.
By mid-August, Little Rock matched last year’s total number of homicides at 42. Over the next week or so, a few more homicides added to the list. Then, a break, a 51 day stretch with no murders in the city.
"Our mandatory overtime is playing a difference, however we’ve seen churches step up, we’ve seen people be more vocal about ‘what can we do to help stop crime’," said McClanahan.
"We’re blessed because Little Rock has so many strong churches, so what we’re doing is a cooperative effort," said Dr. Steven Smith, pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church.
Two weeks ago, 100 Immanuel Baptist church members walked the streets to handout lightbulbs as a gift.
"We believe that the answer is having a relationship with Christ, but for many people they need immediate help. They need food, parenting classes," said Smith.
Two years ago, the church purchased the old Kroger building down the hill for several million dollars with a goal to serve the under-served with its food pantry, after school help, and mentoring.
“Especially in the last 12 months, it’s become very clear that this community needs a center for the city, a place they can come find food, training, job skills, equipping, all these types of things," said Smith.
"We know that efforts like that will and do make a difference," said McClanahan.
So far, one third of this year’s homicides are solved with help from more people coming forward.
"Whether it be through Facebook as a private message, whether you want to remain anonymous, we’re constantly encouraging people hey we need your help in solving crime," said McClanahan.
With the extra man power right now, Lieutenant McClanahan hopes this downward trend in crime continues. A new class of 45 recruits begins in November and he hopes the department is back at capacity sometime next year.
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