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Businesses Looking Out for Each Other's Safety with Panic Button System

Cases of sexual assaults on female employees have a handful of businesses in the Heights turning to their neighbor for protection.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Jerry Hood's tools by trade include clippers and scissors.

Jerry's Barber Shop on Kavanaugh in the Heights neighborhood of Little Rock has had a lot of heads of hair sit down in the chairs.

"I've been here 44 years," explained Jerry.

Over time he's built relationships outside of the family business.

There's a network of five shops all connected.

Susan Hurst helps run Local Colour, a gallery just a few doors down from Jerry.

"We're usually alone in here and it's mostly females," Hurst said.

It bothered Jerry that they were alone most of the time. So he set up a system of panic buttons so if someone came in to one of those businesses that looked suspicious all they would have to do is push a button.

"And it would ring the bell," Jerry showed. "All of us would drop what we're doing."

They could be at any one of the neighboring shops in a matter of seconds.

It's not a substitute for the police but a way to keep an eye out.

Digital artist at Lance Johnston Studios, Kristin Murphy appreciates just knowing he's there.

She said, "I know I can push it if someone walks in and feel threatened in any way."

Jerry added, "We just walk in there and usually that's all it takes."

If it happens to take more however, Jerry has expanded his tool belt.

"I carry a taser with me," he showed. "I also have a concealed weapon license."

Fortunately, while there have been occasions of uncomfortable situations, he's never had to use either. However he says, he is willing pull out a tool other than a set of clippers.

"I feel like I could handle it."
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