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Little Rock's new plan to thwart violent crime

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As violent crime plagues most cities in this country, everyone is trying to figure out how to deal with it. For some cities, it’s all about whining that we won’t pass new gun control laws that won’t actually accomplish anything.

In a lot of places, they’re trying to figure out what they can do without any of that.

Little Rock, Arkansas is one such place, and they’ve got an interesting approach.

The Little Rock Police Department is cracking down on loitering as a way of preventing more serious crimes in the city.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. on Wednesday gave an update on the ongoing efforts to combat a rise in violent crime. Speaking with reporters at City Hall, he said police and fire crews have conducted “sweeps” of locations with the most complaints of loitering.

“We know there are particular areas of the city where loitering happens, and shortly after the loitering happens, crime happens,” Scott said. “So we’ve been laser-focused on how we address those businesses, those apartment complexes, those particular stores by addressing certain issues.”

The mayor says a sweep conducted at the Bradford Estates apartment complex last week uncovered more than 100 city code violations. Officials say businesses could face fines if no progress is made on loitering issues.

Now, loitering doesn’t feel like a significant issue in and of itself, and it’s not. Not really.

Yet in Little Rock, they recognize a pattern, so they’re trying to short-circuit the pattern.

Reading this, it reminds me quite a bit of Broken Window Policing, which is controversial, but it worked in New York in helping bring down the crime rate.

Now, I recognize there are some differences as well, but the key point here is that by focusing on a minor crime that’s a precursor to a more significant issue like violent crime, you not just prevent the violence, but you also prevent people from throwing their life away.

A ticket for loitering is easily recovered from. A life sentence for murder? Not so much.

So in a very real way, everyone wins. Well, some don’t necessarily win, they just don’t lose nearly as much as they could have.

Understand, I’m not a huge fan of loitering laws myself. I think if people want to hang out on private property and the property owner doesn’t have an issue with it, no one else should either. However, if the laws are on the books and have withstood any legal challenge, my opinion is kind of irrelevant and I don’t blame a city for using those laws to prevent worse violations.

Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see if this works, but I suspect we’ll start seeing results and a dip in the violent crime rate in Little Rock by the end of the year. Assuming, of course, they continue doing so.

If we see a pattern to the violence, it’s imperative that officials use that knowledge to try and do something to address the issue. If that also involves not disarming law-abiding people, I’m going to count that as a huge win.

Guns aren’t the issue and have never been the issue. The issue has generally been public officials’ inability to look for any cause other than guns or, more accurately, any solution besides gun control.

This despite gun control never actually doing what people claim it does.

Whether this focus on loitering works or not, I feel the need to applaud Little Rock officials for looking outside the box and trying to prevent the violence rather than responding to it by trying to punish innocent people for the misdeeds of others.