Pine Bluff is 'darn serious' about crime

PINE BLUFF (KATV)There have been nine murders so far this year in Pine Bluff, with the most recent one happening last night. Compared to cities with similar populations, Pine Bluff tops the chart for murders.

The latest Pine Bluff murder left Brian Almond, 43, dead and another victim was also shot and taken to a hospital.

Almond marks the ninth person murdered in Pine Bluff in 2014.

"We're darn serious about it, you're not going to rule our city anymore it's over with," said Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth.

Pine Bluff is home to around 50,000 people, cities similar in size include Conway and Benton and Bryant combined. Conway has seen one murder, while Benton and Bryant have seen none.

"Socioeconomics does play into it, is it the driving force? I don't completely think so, I think it goes deeper than that, to say that I have the answer to it right now, I do not, but to say we're going to have the answer to it, yes we are," added Hollingsworth.

Crime has gone down 18 percent from 2013, according to Police Chief Jeff Hubanks. Since January, they've worked with violent offenders through their Violent Crimes Task Force; they've also been using a hot spot analysis that identifies crime ridden areas. He says cleaning up the city and bringing more jobs will help long-term.

"The more people who are gainfully employed the fewer people who are doing drug fueled activities that lead to potentially a homicide or some other act of violence," said Chief Hubanks.

Another program in the works is a re-entry program, which is being developed as we speak to help people find jobs and continue on the right path after committing a crime.