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Scott makes a case for the City’s decline of crime on national TV

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. explains how the City has been able to drive down crime on NewsNation

Central Arkansas Press/Scott Green

Although recent polls suggest homicides in major cities are largely down from 2022, they are still up from 2019. It is largely agreed that competing philosophies to address the problem often lead to stalemates over public policy, and the country’s city mayors say discussions need to be held accountable about solving problems, not politics.

On Monday night, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott participated in a NewsNation town hall conversation facilitated by show host Chris Cuomo. Mayor Scott was joined by mayoral panelist Wade Kapszukiewicz, of Toledo, Ohio; Luke Bronin, of Hartford, Conn.; and Elaine O'Neal, of Durham, N.C. New York mayor Eric Adams was invited, but declined to join.

The discussion focused on crime in America and what elected mayors and law enforcement personnel are doing to protect citizens in their communities.

As cities across America look for ways to reduce crime, the three participating mayors seemed to agree that the goal to protect communities can’t be achieved without setting politics aside.

Cuomo began the program by describing Little Rock as one of the most dangerous places in the country to live. He asked Scott how he dealt with (the title), and how does he identify with the main problem for that designation. Scott responded that the perception in many peoples eyes is reality and immediately took the liberty to speak on behalf of the panelist by stating that as mayors they have to address reality because they receive the phone calls reporting homicides, battery assaults, and domestic violence. He even claimed to have the ability to account for each homicide that has occurred in his city during the last 4-1/2 years that he has been in office.

Scott offered a personal testimony that he currently lives in one of the more crime ridden areas of his city, but he doesn’t feel unsafe, and believes that many residents share those same sentiments in spite of the stats. However, he also acknowledged that there are citizens that don’t share the same opinion. He said that it is the responsibility of his office to address the “feeling of crime and safety” irrespective of the statistics.

When asked what was the biggest “thing” that has to be done (to reduce crime) in Little Rock, Scott said, “It’s not one thing, it’s a multitude of things.” Before answering the question Scott deviated by mentioning that during his term in office, his administration has been able drive violent crime down -5% year after year, overall crime down -3%, and overall crime being driven down -1% during the past five years.

Cuomo followed up and asked again how (was crime being driven down) and Scott’s response was the description of using a three prong approach: 1.) targeted patrols in high crime areas; 2.) a focus on getting smarter by obtaining funding from the American Rescue Act (a real time crime center that puts additional eyes on the streets); and 3.) focusing on youth and young adults by spending close to $7,000,000 on prevention and intervention work. Before concluding he added a fourth component that focused on understanding how mental health contributed to crime over the pasts 2-3 years. The result being the addition of a mental health unit within the Little Rock Police Department.

During the discussion a recent statement from the NAACP Oakland Branch was referenced blaming everyone from the city’s district attorney to “the movement to defund the police” for contributing to a “heyday for Oakland criminals.” However, other Oakland activist believe that the most recent spike in crime is caused by socioeconomic problems that were exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. The result being a lack of gainful employment for young people.

Some argue that the platitudes that encouraged the “Left” to come together for the (2020) elections resulted in harming communities because cities ended up not having the resources they needed to effectively protect and serve.

When it was time for Scott to address the imbalance between what Democrats were thinking, that now seems to be responsible for the wrong outcome, he echoed Mayor Kapszukiewicz’s sentiment that the mayor of any community is that of an executive leader, not a legislator. He added that as a City executive, the job of mayor, “isn’t to worry about politics, but rather solve problems,” adding, it’s the job of a mayor to “move from platitudes to policy in action,” and, “it doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican, if you’re a Democrat, or if you’re an independent, it’s a both/and approach.”

Scott went on record saying he’s been very progressive on public safety reform, (and) very progressive on public safety. He concluded his comments by saying he is also of the opinion that Little Rockians want a safe city, but without officers cracking people over the head for no apparent reason.

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