Dealing with violent crime, and particularly rumors fueled by social media, has kept Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant busy over the past week.

We’re going to show the bad guys we’re going to take back our community. You’re going to see more operations like that in the next 90 days.

  Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant  

Speaking during Coffee with the Chiefs, sponsored by Interested Citizens for Voter Registration Tuesday, Sergeant also discussed steps the department is taking to deal with crime in general — violent crimes in particular.

Last week, there were reports on social media that a gang from Chicago was coming to Pine Bluff for an initiation, and those reports reached Sergeant quickly.

“It scared the city, and I spoke to The Commercial and told them that we had no intelligence of that and, in fact, it was not true,” he said.

With 17 homicides so far this year, down from the 28 that occurred last year, Sergeant said the department is taking a new approach to dealing with violent crimes, particularly in the central part of town or, as he has called it, the hot spot. It’s located between 17th Avenue and 31st Avenue, from Olive Street to Hazel Street.

Last Saturday, Sergeant said officers from multiple agencies conducted a saturation campaign in the hot spot area that ended well before he expected it to.

“We started at about 2 p.m. and were planning to be out there until about 10, but after the first couple of hours, everything shut down,” he said.

In addition to officers from Pine Bluff, the operation included Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies, Arkansas State Troopers and officers from the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections.

“We’re going to show the bad guys we’re going to take back our community,” he said. “You’re going to see more operations like that in the next 90 days.”

The daily jail log reviewed by The Commercial showed that the inmate count at the adult detention center increased from 312 on Friday morning to 341 by Sunday night.

In addition, the Violent Crime Task Force has been reestablished, the chief said, and will be headed by Capt. Denise Richardson.

“The team is going to concentrate in that area and they will be supplemented by vice and narcotics detectives in the same area, working a different shift,” Sergeant said. “They will be out there seven days a week.”

He also said that a team will focus on reports of burglaries and thefts in the southern part of the city.