LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The leadership of the capital city’s police force said on Thursday that the organization has done a good job in confronting a rise in violent crime over the past year.

Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey and Assistant Chief Crystal Young-Haskins spoke about those efforts in a year-end press conference.

Chief Humphrey said the city saw a national uptick in violent crime partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and knew Little Rock wouldn’t be immune.

Last year, the department reassigned community resource officers to a violent crime task force.

Humphrey compared the 55 homicides recorded in Little Rock in 2020 to other cities in the region.

• Jackson, Mississippi, which had 128 homicides in 2020, and 129 so far in 2021.

• Birmingham, Alabama had 120 in 2020, 122 so far this year.

• Baton Rouge had 97 homicides in 2019, 136 in 2020 and 167 in 2021.

Currently, Little Rock stands at 64 homicides for 2021.

Humphrey said one of the key factors to the 22% rise of violent crime in Little Rock for 2021 has been retaliation.

Operation Cease Fire was initiated in mid-May and has resulted in 61 arrests.

The Little Rock Police Department added a second officer to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Fireworks task force. Humphrey says their work improves investigations that lead to federal gun crime prosecutions.

Assistant Chief Crystal Young-Haskins addressed New Year’s safety, saying there will be extra officers and details out Friday night. She says the public should remember to not drink and drive, and pedestrians should be cautious about walking in areas with traffic.

Regarding celebratory gunfire, Haskins said “just refrain”, noting that the bullets must come down somewhere. A special email address has also been set up for fireworks complaints.

Parents were also reminded to know the whereabouts of their children on New Year’s Eve

The LRPD reports nearly 750 illegal weapons were taken off the street in Little Rock in 2021 with around 500 arrests related to gun crimes.

Recruitment efforts were detailed. The coming year has the potential to have the most women ever in a police academy.

When asked about an uptick in violent crime among young people, Chief Humphrey discussed concerns over young people between the ages of 14 and 23 who are often either the perpetrators or victims of violent crimes. He says many young people are captivated by guns.