LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Last week, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., announced the creation of a new crime prevention group amid a high number of homicides in 2022.

The group’s first meeting will be soon, and its leader said it will aid newly-funded programs in determining where to allocate resources.

Ken Richardson worked in street-level conflict intervention for decades, and he was tapped to lead the new group.

“We didn’t get here overnight,” Richardson said of the homicides, which now total 18. “We’re not going to get out of it overnight, but we need to really look at what we did in the past, what worked.”

Richardson said the group is made up of credible experts with more changes on the way. 

“I don’t think we have a young person on there,” Richardson said. “That’s one of the things we’re missing and will be my first recommendation.”

One of the main purposes of the group will be figuring out whether the newly-funded programs are helping.

“How do we address what’s happening right now?” Richardson said. “If in fact we need to go a whole different direction, we do that.”

Richardson said he thinks several of the programs will be effective, but he doesn’t think programs alone can solve the problems the city faces. A coordinated effort between law enforcement and city leaders to connect with people in highly-impacted areas will be key, he said, which proved effective in the late 1990s.

“We’d get in and do conflict resolution long before they devolved into idiotic violent acts,” Richardson said.

Whichever direction the group leads should be nonpolitical, Richardson said.

“When we have one homicide in our community, it’s time for us to stop and address the factors that led to the homicide,” Richardson said.