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City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Thursday, June 22, 2006
CITY OF LITTLE ROCK, NEIGHBORHOOD NOTE SUCCESS OF “CAP” EFFORT
Criminal Abatement Program Leads to Closure of Business that Was Site of Criminal Incidents
(Little Rock, AR—June 22, 2006) Residents of three central Little Rock neighborhoods joined Mayor Jim Dailey and other City officials in observing a success of the City’s Criminal Abatement Program, or CAP. State Senator Irma Hunter Brown was also in attendance at the event, which noted the closure of a gas station/car wash at 1901 Wright Avenue. That location had been the site of numerous criminal incidents.
CAP is a coordinated, concentrated effort by City Departments to address crime and nuisance issues in neighborhoods throughout the city. Mayor Dailey announced the creation of CAP in his 2004 State of the City Address.
Previous to CAP, the Police might be targeting one neighborhood, Housing Codes might be focusing on another neighborhood, Building Codes would be in yet another neighborhood, Public Works in a fourth, Fire inspectors in a fifth, and so on. It was difficult for the City Attorney’s office to prosecute these cases because of time lapses between the different violations at a single site.
The CAP team focuses on a neighborhood in our City where there is a concentration of both criminal activity and code violations. What we have found is that these usually go together. Twice a month, the Mayor and City Manager sit down with the CAP team and review the status of issues and investigations.
The Mayor noted, “About a year ago, this address – 1901 Wright Avenue – first appeared on our CAP records. Among the charges at this address were drugs, loitering, public intoxication, and criminal trespassing. Since that time, City staff worked with the property owner to address those issues including the City calling for security and cameras on the site. When the owner decided he was not either willing or able to pay for these items, he closed this business and put it up for sale.”
“Another partner in this effort is the neighborhood,” said City Manager Bruce Moore. “City staff cannot be on every city block 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The neighbors and business owners in this area worked hand in hand with the Little Rock Police Department, the Wright Avenue Alert Center, and other City staff.”
When asked how CAP was different from previous City efforts, the Mayor noted four points. The first is the coordinated effort. Second was that City staff continues to monitor the neighborhoods. “We do not celebrate a success and then close the book on that area. At each CAP meeting, the City Manager and I ask questions about each of the neighborhoods and areas we have previously targeted. We want to be sure the hard work does not go away,” stated Mayor Dailey.
Another unique aspect of CAP is that City staff examines crime trends to ensure that problems are not just moving from one street or neighborhood to another. “If we are only shifting problems from one street to the next, we are not solving the problem,” the Mayor noted. “Finally,” he continued, “The closure of this business is only the first step. The next step is a business or development here to be a positive anchor.”
“I can assure you that the City continues to monitor this property and the surrounding properties,” the Mayor said. “I can also assure you that we will use our economic development, small business, and planning resources to work with persons interested in this property. This is a prime location for a business. But it is also a key spot for the Wright Avenue, Capital Hill, and Central High neighborhoods. We want to make sure that whatever is located here adds to the neighborhood both economically as well as in appearance.”
“It is exciting to be able to talk about CAP successes,” state the Mayor. “The CAP team sees them every time we meet, but this one was so visible we wanted to share it with the neighbors and the general public. But remember, this is only the first step—and we will continue to be a partner in future steps.”
At the end of May, City staff gave a presentation on CAP at the Neighborhoods USA conference. “Based on the feedback,” said Mayor Dailey, “I suspect that CAP teams are being formed throughout the country as we speak.”