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Little Rock police take a look at crime stats for 2021, how to combat it

"We've got to get better convictions and that's why we're going with federal cases," said Chief Humphrey.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Violent crime in Little Rock has been a big topic throughout the year with initiatives from the police department and announcements for change from city officials.

There's been 64 homicides for the year, compared to 55 last year. 

There's been 750 illegal guns taken off the street. 

Violent crimes increased by 22% in May with a spike in February, but LRPD Police Chief Keith Humphrey says the rest of the year, crime started trending down. 

"This year, Jackson, Mississippi had 129 homicides, Baton Rouge had 167 and Birmingham had 122 homicides. Now, Birmingham is a similar size to Little Rock. We don't take our violent crimes lightly here," said Humphrey.

Chief Humphrey says that violent crimes have affected cities nationwide and Little Rock wasn't immune to it, but the department works hard to combat it. 

Operation Cease Fire was an initiative launched back in April to take illegal weapons off the street. 

"We've had 61 total arrests. 80 of those arrests were felonies; 26 misdemeanors. We ceased five firearms and we ceased nearly $17,000 in cash," said Humphrey. 

Even with strategies to combat violent gun crimes, it wasn't enough to save those affected by shooting homicides. 

Genett Hood lost her son Keyeon Dukes back in July after he was shot and killed one night. His killer is still out there. 

He leaves behind three children -- one he never met because his girlfriend at the time was pregnant. 

"We are making it. The holidays have really been rough for me. I made the best Christmas for my grands but I can’t even rest at night. I know in God’s timing," said Hood. 

It's the impact of those crime stats that puts the reality of homicides into perspective. 

"It's crazy when I have to talk to these mothers and my heart goes out. They sitting here like, 'What we gone do now? Why we got to wait?'" said Lakesia Smith with Central Arkansas's Parents of Murdered Children. 

She's worked with families of violent crime victims to give them support through the justice system. 

She says there's something that needs to be done within the system to keep alleged killers locked up once arrested with sufficient evidence by police.

"These young men are doing these homicides and knowing that they can go to jail and bond out the same day or the next day. There's nothing being done," said Smith.

Chief Humphrey says there's four branches of combating crime: community, law, judicial and convictions. 

They all have to work together to get justice.

"We've got to get better convictions and that's why we're going with federal cases," said Humphrey.

The department says their goal for 2022 is to keep their foot on the pedal in terms of trying to suppress violent crimes. 

They're looking to hire two more social workers skilled in community relations.