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City of Little Rock Public Relations
Office (501) 371-4421
Contact(s):Scott Whiteley Carter
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Friday, March 17, 2006
CITY OF LITTLE ROCK BREAKS GROUND ON DOWNTOWN POLICE FACILITY
$500,000 Service Center Funded by 2004 Capital Bond Program
Little Rock, AR (17 March 2006). As sod was being lifted from the earth on St. Patrick’s Day, Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey remarked, “We may not find a pot of gold buried in the ground, but the success of downtown Little Rock is a reward in itself.”
The Mayor made the remarks at a ceremony to mark the construction of a new Downtown Police Service Center. Joining him were Police Chief Stuart Thomas, City Manager Bruce Moore, Central Arkansas Water CEO Jim Harvey, Downtown Partnership Executive Director Sharon Priest, and Project Progress Committee member Ken Gould.
“Public Safety remains the number one priority of the City of Little Rock,” the Mayor affirmed. Through this facility, and indeed each of our Police Department facilities, we honor that commitment to Little Rock citizens.”
“Looking at all the construction in this area, it is easy to forget that downtown Little Rock – especially the eastern part of downtown Little Rock – was almost deserted. Businesses and residences were the exception and not the rule.”
“But, as we know, this has changed,” continued the Mayor. “With downtown’s expansion and advances in the way our Police protect our citizens, it made sense to locate a Police facility in this growing area. So, in 2003, with the overwhelming support of Little Rock voters, $500,000 was appropriated for a Downtown Service Center for the Police Department.”
“This Downtown Service Center marks a new chapter in downtown law enforcement efforts,” said Police Chief Stuart Thomas. “It will be an additional tool for us. I want to stress that this does not mean we are closing down the River Market Police Kiosk or any other police facility.”
The site of the new Downtown Service Center was recently a parking lot for Central Arkansas Water (CAW). The facility was designed by Tim Heiple of Market Row Architects, and the contractor is CWR Construction Co. Construction is slated to be completed by December 2006. The $500,000 building is one component of $24.3 million earmarked for public safety out of the total $69 million bond program. As Gould noted in his remarks, “Come January 21, 2007, all of the 2004 Capital Bond Projects will be finished.”
This building is another component of the City’s continued focus on Public Safety as the number one priority. Over two-thirds (2/3) of the 2006 City Budget is dedicated to Public Safety. In December 2005, the City Board approved the hiring of at least forty-five (45) police officers in 2006. This is intended to allow the Police Department to approach the recommended level of 434 Police Officer positions (excluding supervisors).
It is currently anticipated that the Police Department will initiate Recruit School #63 on March 27, 2006, with approximately twenty-five (25) members. A number of factors, including intervening hiring by other agencies and businesses, reduced the number of new applicants available to the LRPD for the March hiring target.
The LRPD will follow this recruit school with a “COAT” school in May. COAT stands for Certified Officer Accelerated Training, which is a separate orientation schedule designed for new hires who already have state law enforcement certification, and who were recruited from other agencies. The LRPD has already conducted, and will continue to conduct, applicant testing for COAT positions. The LRPD will attempt to hire as many certified officers as may be needed to reach the hiring goal.
The LRPD will also continue new officer testing throughout the year in an attempt to develop a suitable applicant pool. In the event the LRPD does not achieve the desired forty-five (45) new hires through the two scheduled schools, the remaining applicant pool will be evaluated with the possibility of beginning a second recruit school in October.