Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said he is ready to use some of the money the Pine Bluff City Council recently authorized for him to pay for information on homicides.
Speaking at Coffee with the Chiefs, sponsored by Interested Citizens for Voter Registration and held at First Baptist Church Tuesday, Sergeant said the department will be offering $10,000 for information on any unsolved homicide, not just those that have been reported this year.
Through the first three months of 2019, there have been nine homicides reported in the Pine Bluff city limits, including five in March. Officers have made arrests in two of the nine.
He attributed the homicides to a number of factors, including a lack of parenting, lack of faith, lack of positive influences, lack of teaching and education, lack of mentoring and a lack of love.
“We’ve got to do the reverse,” Sergeant said. “We try to show love with what the Police Department does with a lot of the community service programs we do, but it’s going to take more than that.”
“Pine Bluff has to come together,” he added. “In the past, we were successful in solving homicides because witnesses came forward, and that’s one of the reasons I recommended the money for rewards.”
In March, the City Council approved using $50,000 from money that had been budgeted for salaries within the department but had not been spent because of manpower shortages to be used for rewards.
“We’ve got some ideas for dealing with these crimes,” Sergeant said. “One of them is paying overtime. Usually, we think of overtime in November and December (during the holiday shopping season) but we’ve got a problem today and we can deal with November and December later.”
One thing that will happen, Sergeant said, is an increase in patrols and what he called “focused deterrence.”
By that, Sergeant said he meant that officers know that certain locations are trouble spots and that certain people are involved in crimes on a regular basis.
“We’re going to focus on them,” he said.
Sergeant also said that it was not the time to panic, even though there have been nine homicides in less than 90 days.
“If you panic, you lose your thought process,” he said. “We’re going to slow down and reevaluate the problem and solutions.”