Pine Bluff Police targets offenders in new Violent Crimes Task Force

PINE BLUFF (KATV)--Inhopes of decreasing the crime rate in Pine Bluff, police are using a similarapproach coming from departments on the east coast.

HighPoint, North Carolina, had a similar problem with violent crimes as does Pine Blufftoday, but since their violent crimes task force was created crime has gonedown around 50 percent.

Whileit's taken High Point nearly 17 years to decrease crime, Pine Bluff Police hopein the next few years, the Pine Bluff Violent Crimes Task Force will showsignificant results.

In2012, Pine Bluff saw 18 murders, and in 2013 there were 16 on record.

Sofar this year, one man was killed and two other victims were injured during atriple shooting on January 18th.

It'snot a mystery that Pine Bluff is known for crime, but police hope to changethat with their newly created violent crimes task force similar to the onecreated in North Carolina.

"When they first started doing it, they mirroredour crime rate, right now they have an over 50 percent reduction in violentcrime," said Pine Bluff Deputy Chief Kelvin Sergeant.

Sergeantsaid, the following criteria was used to pick candidates for this program: theymust have a violent criminal history, at least one arrest with a firearm, overthe age of 18 and currently on probation or parole.

"Tryto offer them some things whether it's a GED, counseling or drug counseling,assistance in getting a job; whatever we can do to push you in the rightdirection to help you become a more valuable person in this community," addsSergeant.

Itwon't be mandatory for these offenders to take part in the new program. However,if they're caught committing another violent crime officials plan to throw thebook at them since they had already offered help and they didn't take advantageof it.

Ofcourse, those with pending charges won't qualify for this. Sofar, six people have been selected for this program.