Pine Bluff residents talk crime, dysfunction at town hall meeting

PINE BLUFF (KATV) - More than a hundred Pine Bluff residents paid close attention to Debe Hollingsworth's first town hall meeting as mayor.

"Public safety is one of the key components that we cannot allow politics to enter into it," said Hollingsworth during her State of the City address.

Crime, police misconduct, and city dysfunction were at the heart of a lively discussion at the Convention Center Monday night.

"In my central park neighborhood it's easier to access a liquor store than a grocery store," said one resident.

"Drugs is the number one problem in Pine Bluff and crime will not get much better until we get this problem corrected," said another.

Newly appointed police chief Jeff Hubanks held back no punches discussing his departments troubled past.

He unveiled his plan for "problem oriented policing" that he hopes will end racial profiling.

"We're not putting the wrong people on the car and we're not stopping the wrong people from walking from point A to point B," said in the interim police chief. "The randomness is gone. Randomness is bad."

Mayor Hollingsworth unveiled a goal to cut last year's homicide count of 17 in half by the end of 2013. Out of all the promises made, she says a safer town will be what keeps residents applauding.

"That involves all of our livelihoods and public safety has to be top of the list," said Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth says she hopes to hold more town halls in the future.