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'Can't police your way out': Little Rock leaders look for new ways to fight violent crime

Police are investigating five separate shootings from the weekend where a total of seven people were injured with one dying from their injuries.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Seven people were shot in 5 separate shootings, with one person dying over the weekend in Little Rock. The back to back violence has left lingering concerns for city leaders to dig for the root of the problem.

The message of "stop the violence" has rang through the city of Little Rock for decades. Sgt. Willie Davis with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office has spearheaded numerous programs in the city to combat crime. 

He said unlike the gang wars that riddled the 90s the new war on crime is individual trauma. 

"They're living in conditions of war everyday. Back when Vietnam was going on they came home, but for these young boys and girls now, home is where war is every day and there's no post traumatic stress. There's no post, cause they're enduring this thing everyday," said Sgt. Davis.

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He's become increasingly concerned over the years.  

His focus has been on Black males in the community and said it's the unchecked aggression and bleak outlook on life that results in less worth and value for life. 

Even in giving them a space to grow self love with programs, it's easy for at-risk youth and young adults to revert in their negative mindset because Davis said the issue starts at home.

"I'm sure it's unresolved trauma. They don't want to talk about it and we're not trying to engage them in that conversation as well. I think grown folks like myself are accountable to a degree cause we were here first," said Sgt. Davis.

The metaphorical war he described can be seen if you look around the areas of Little Rock where these young men live. 

Beyond unresolved trauma issues, Davis said the war is about poor identity, racism, decades of a failing housing policy, fatherless homes, poor education, unemployment and low employment. 

"So you drop drugs and guns in the mix no wonder we see what we're seeing today. It's scary," said Sgt. Davis. 

Ward 2 director Ken Richardson wholeheartedly agrees with Davis. 

Before the redistricting maps were changed this year, Richardson used to be over the area where a lot of the shootings this past weekend took place. 

He's also spent years trying to combat crime with gang invention programs in the 90s. The trickle down impact of less gangs is still having the negative mindset on the value of life.

"What we're gonna have to do is have more street-based crisis intervention out in the community, engaging people when we hear little small conflicts before they evolve into bigger acts of violence," said Richardson.

He said the responsibility of the board as policy makers is to look at violent crime proactively instead of retroactively.

When certain people in the community are dealing with less resources, it's frustrating for him when the board's general view on the situation is to try to police their way out of less incidents. 

"You can't police your way out of substance abuse. You can't police your way out of mental health treatment, mental health needs. You can't police your way out of unemployment, underemployment," said Richardson.

He said when we have one homicide in our community, we should stop and look at all the factors that led up to that homicide. 

If we don't we're just going to keep playing checkers and not chess to the problem, according to Richardson.

Davis said it's inside the four walls of a home where the first agency of socialization starts. We need to start focusing on our emotions and self worth as a community. 

"I believe that if I respect myself, I'm gonna have a hard time disrespecting you," said Sgt. Davis.

If you have any information about any of these weekend shootings, or any crime in the city, you're asked to contact police, and you can always remain anonymous.

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