James Sturch, Arkansas Senator
A shooting spree occurred in Little Rock over the weekend of August 13 and 14. Three people were killed and four people were wounded.
In the most recent tally, there were 18 shootings that also damaged buildings and motor vehicles.
The State Police activated a helicopter and brought in 32 troopers to help Little Rock police and the Pulaski County sheriff.
The joint operation was successful and a suspect was arrested and charged with multiple violent offenses, including capital murder. He was a convicted felon who had been out on parole for a year. He is 31 years old, and first got in trouble with the law when he was 16.
It was one example of cooperation between state agencies and local law enforcement.
Another example was a recent “saturation effort” in Pulaski County, when officers made 295 home visits to parolees over four days. They made direct contact with 172 parolees and arrested seven of them. They confiscated five firearms.
In July seven parolees were arrested and 18 weapons were seized. Their sentences will reflect the stronger penalties imposed by Act 946 of 2021, which enhances penalties for repeat offenders who use a firearm to commit felonies.
The act prohibits them from being released on parole.
Also in response to public concerns about crime, the legislature has approved funding for the Department of Community Correction to initiate intensive supervision of parolees in central Arkansas.
At a press conference, the governor provided an example of the effectiveness of intensive supervision in five counties in central Arkansas.
During the first four months of the year, six parole officers made 28 arrests and confiscated four guns. In April, 10 parole officers were added and the number of arrests went up sharply. Since April 109 parolees have been arrested for violations and 48 firearms seized.
Troop A of the State Police covers Pulaski, Lonoke, Faulkner and Saline Counties in central Arkansas. According to the director of the State Police, since the beginning of 2021Troop A has confiscated 310 firearms, of which 30 were fully automatic.
At his press conference the governor noted that the state Board of Correction has approved a $75 million expansion of state prisons, and in early September will consider an additional expansion of $50 million.
The backlog of state inmates in county jails was about 2,600 in January and it has gone down to about 2,000.
The governor has proposed to legislators the addition of a fifth Crisis Stabilization Unit, to be located in south Arkansas. It would cost $3 million.
The four existing units are in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Little Rock. Police can take people there who are experiencing a mental health crisis, rather than locking them in jail.
To clear the backlog of court cases created by the pandemic, the governor already has allocated $1 million for prosecutors and public defenders. He has requested that the legislature approve funding of an additional $9 million, divided evenly between prosecutors and public defenders.