Little Rock police arrests drop despite more calls for service and an increase in budgeted positions

In 2021, the city of Little Rock had the highest number of calls for service to the police department going as far back as 1998. It also had the lowest number of arrests on record since 1998.

Police arrests peaked in 2007 with 17,362 and then starting in 2012 dropped to under 10,000 for many years. Before the pandemic, arrests reached 11,018 in 2019 and have dropped to 8,173 in 2020 and 7,031 in 2021.

Meanwhile, calls for service have peaked at 172,692 in 2021. That's a 12% increase from 2019, the last year before the pandemic.

And crime has been slightly down during the pandemic. Major crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson) in 2021 dropped 2% since 2019.

This data is from the city’s latest audited annual report.

The drop in arrests follows a nationwide trend, which includes cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and others.

But while arrests have decreased, the number of budgeted uniformed employees has not seen a reduction. The police had 594 budgeted positions in 2021, the highest going back to 1998.

The Little Rock Police and Fire departments were the two largest expenditures by department for the city in 2021.

The police department spent $77 million, while the fire department spent $57 million. That was 62% of the city’s total expenditures for 2021.

The Little Rock mayor’s office did not respond to The Center Square’s request for comment.

Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey stepped down and retired in May 2022, according to the city. In June, Interim Police Chief Crystal Young-Haskins resigned her position on June 17.

The Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on arrest trends.

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