Dem mayor declares violent crime a public health emergency, police union calls out political move

A Little Rock, Ark. mayor is denying his emergency resolution on crime has anything to do with his reelection bid as he faces criticism for its timing.

The president of a Little Rock police union is calling out Democrat Mayor Frank Scott Jr. for his resolution last month declaring a public health emergency over rising crime rates. The resolution, which passed on Feb. 1, calls for a “holistic approach to addressing violence through law enforcement and community programming.”

It also addressed overtime pay for police officers and other budget constraints as well as hiring social workers. Scott tweeted at the time about the benefit of designating the increase in crime as a “public health crisis” saying the resolution “emphasizes and reiterates our collective focus on addressing community violence holistically, while allowing expedited processes to deploy resources more quickly.”

But the fact that the resolution was passed on the same day that Scott announced his reelection bid was not lost on some and Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police Zach Farley minced no words in attacking Scott and his record.

“I don’t think the mayor and the police chief give a damn about the police officers,” Farley told Fox News. “Our job is to enforce the law, but we’ve been hamstrung so hard that we really can’t.”

The riots and protest of 2020 after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis saw police officers becoming “villainized,” according to Farley, whose chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police represents approximately 95% of the officers in Little Rock.

“It has a lot to do with weak leadership, whether its upper level leadership in law enforcement agencies or the local politics and mayors and county judges or even some governors,” he said. “Over the last couple of years, it’s almost like there’s no enforcement of the laws, especially the lower level stuff.”

(Image: Zach Farley, screengrab Fox News Digital)

“We’re so overwhelmed with major incidents, homicides and shootings,” Farley told Fox News. “We’re just drowning in those things and smaller things are happening, and they’re escalating.”

According to the Little Rock Police Department, there was an increase of 105 in property crimes last year and all violent crime has risen 35% while homicides have gone up 42%, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“We have given our police all the resources they’ve needed because we believe in proactive policing,” Scott told Fox News, adding that the department’s budget has been around $80 million since 2019 and his administration has never been in favor of defunding the police.

Little Rock City Vice Mayor Board Member Lance Hines expressed that it’s “tough” for officers “to be real active when they don’t feel like they’ve got the support of the police chief and the mayor.”

His was the only vote against the resolution, disputing the need for an emergency declaration when laws that already exist are rarely being enforced.

“The laws are already on the books,” said Farley who also questioned the timing, according to Fox News.

But the mayor has insisted that there was no connection between the passing of the declaration and his reelection campaign.

“I don’t necessarily discuss the politics because this is about the people of the city of Little Rock,” he said.

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