in the streets and homes. Full jails. Too many parolees from Pulaski County to release them all.
Crime and public safety are near the top of the public agenda these days and seem likely to remain.
So I thought those interested might like to read some e-mail I've been copied on lately by a Little Rock resident and city officials.
First is Dr. Anika Whitfield
, a busy civic activist often representing the point of view of Central Little Rock, home to some of the city's roughest streets.
Then there's City Director Erma Hendrix,
who represents the east side of town. Then there's Mayor Stodola
who is blaming repeat offenders for overcoming the city's otherwise excellent policing. Then there's City Director Ken Richardson,
the voice of reason on the city board and the Central Little Rock director, who has a reminder that permanent lockup is expensive and not a solution to root problems.
The engagement is interesting.
LETTER FROM ANIKA WHITFIELD TO CITY OFFICIALS
We need YOUR help to Restore Safety and Security to the neighborhoods in Little Rock. Help me protect vulnerable SENIORS and those of us who work hard to enjoy the fruits of our labors and don't want thieves to take ANYTHING from us.
Elderly residents in the South End and Sunset Neighborhoods are being violated by thieves who are increasingly stealing flat screen TV's and valuables to sell quickly on the streets. We need to do something NOW. We need neighborhood ACTION NOW. We need to put a STOP to all that threatens the security of all our neighbors in LR, but especially those who have worked hard and made sacrifices for their families and communities that are being violated by thieves who disrespect and disregard them!
We are counting on you to not only help by sharing this flyer, but we need you to DO SOMETHING tangible and actual to end the crimes (burglaries, shootings, buying, selling and distributing of drugs and illegal weapons and substances) in our neighborhoods, particularly in Ward 1 and 2 in Little Rock.
This is personal. My parent's home was violated by thieves last week while they were at work as was some of their neighbors within a miles radius we have known for years.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
HELP us stop the madness and restore hope, safety, security, and neighborly love in our community.
Peace and Blessings!
LETTER TO CTY OFFICIALS FROM DIRECTOR ERMA HENDRIX
Mr. Bruce Moore, City Manager,
My appeal to you on behalf of the resident's of Ward 1.
Will the two of you along with Law Enforcement Officers schedule a meeting, at both DUNBAR, and HINTON RESOURCE CENTERS, "ASAP?"
Because, there is a dire need for you to address the "CRIMINAL ELEMENT," that is terrorizing many communities within the City of Little Rock, daily.
LETTER FROM MAYOR STODOLA TO DR. WHITFIELD
Dear Dr. Whitfield——-
I am in receipt of your recent emails expressing concerns on public safety and on all of the contributing factors. I share your concern as does the Board of Directors. We spend a great deal of time and resources on how to make our neighborhoods safer.
Attached to this email is a copy of a letter from me to Justice of the Peace Donna Massey which expresses my concerns in more detail as well as highlighting the negative impact of a broken parole system. Indeed, as for your particular concern about burglaries, a concern which I also share, our Crime Analysis has determined that during the last 6 mos. of 2012, 75% of the people arrested for burglary and auto B&E’s had a prior criminal record. 45% were currently on parole from the state penitentiary. Despite this, the Police Dept. has posted a 9% decrease in reported burglaries from 2011-2012 and to date in 2013 we are reporting a 14.77% decrease from 2012. That said, if you are a victim of crime, statistics are of little solace.
Also enclosed is a flyer on the recent Crime Summit that was sponsored by the City of Little Rock. From your email, it appears you may have been unable to attend. Certainly, we are happy to follow up specifically with you and others on how to make our neighborhoods safer. Please let me know when it is convenient to meet. We will bring appropriate law enforcement staff and housing staff to speak about specifics.
Please know that on a regular basis I tour both Wards 1 and 2 and City Manager Moore has on multiple occasions arranged staff tours to investigate the neighborhoods of both wards. He is also offering to arrange additional tours. We will let you and others know when they are arranged and I hope you will be able to attend.
LETTER FROM KEN RICHARDSON TO THE MAYOR
Thanks for sharing but I didn't see the attached letter to Donna? Although I concur with your point about the repeat offenders, I believe the larger focus should be placed on the development of a comprehensive re-entry system. We can't and won't lock up people forever (that's not practical nor cost effective). Our current re-entry program has about 8 participants who've been in a holding pattern for well over a year and we have about 140 more applicants in the data base. A lot of the crimes referenced by Dr. Whitfield are economic crimes and we should be more aggressive with creating meaningful employment opportunities for all of our citizens. As you are aware, I'm the ultimate "homer" when talking about jobs creation (particularly those who are unemployed and underemployed). A quick glance at our Census data will show a geographical shift in the number of families living below the poverty line and a correlating community disintegration.
LETTER FROM ANIKA WHITEFIELD TO MAYOR STODOLA
Thanks for responding.
There is an overall lack of clear communication and dissemination of information to residents of Little Rock from your office, the city manager and the BOD.
I know that the city can contact us or reach the resident's during election times as my mailbox is flooded with flyers and ads. I know that the city of Little Rock can reach me for payments of my city utilities, because I get a bill every month in the mail.
There must be a better way to enlist interactive and open lines of communication with residents of Little Rock: seniors who may not be Internet savvy, working class who may not have time or be able to take off work for mid day meetings or affairs sponsored by the city, and technologically savvy young adult and middle aged people who feel disconnected from the city until election time rolls around.
As far as the tour of Wards 1 and 2 are concerned, I feel that the at large directors owe us some sweet equity and visibility of true concern. I don't see them or here from them until election time.
It is my hope that you would allow myself and some if my neighbors to be your tour guides through our neighborhoods. We want you to see what we love and value and what we hope to improve and rebuild.
Together we can enjoy the rich blessings of our big small town if we, the residents and the elected officials are connected, communicating frequently, and honest with each other.
I hope you will and can appreciate my on-going concerns and will take seriously my appeals.
Peace and Blessings,