The Metropolitan Housing Alliance of Little Rock hopes to increase the police presence at Fred Parris Towers after members of the resident council expressed concerns about criminal activity at the public housing complex at Broadway and 19th Street.
London King, a member of the Parris Towers resident council and the complex’s chaplain, started the conversation Thursday during the housing authority’s monthly board of commissioners meeting. King said many Parris Towers residents have “hit rock bottom” or been in prison before living there.
“I’m not condemning anyone who’s been in the penitentiary, [but] what I’m saying is a lot of them have a penitentiary mentality, and we’ve got some issues that really need to be addressed here,” King said.
Board chairman Kenyon Lowe said at one point “there was a plan in place” for the Little Rock Police Department to regularly patrol Parris Towers, and he did not know when or why the regular patrols stopped. He said the authority has worked with Assistant Chief Crystal Young-Haskins in the past regarding the plan.
The Little Rock Police Department did not respond to a request by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for comment from Young-Haskins. However, the department provided the newspaper with call data for Parris Towers since March of last year.
Police have responded to 337 calls at the complex since March 2020. Of those calls, 118 were non-police incidents, 45 resulted in an information report, 27 were found to be false or unfounded calls, and the complainant was not located in 19 calls, according to the data. There were three incidents of shots fired and three of public intoxication.
However, the data shows 59 calls that resulted in charges of assault, battery, criminal mischief, criminal trespassing, burglary, criminal theft and terroristic threatening, mostly in residences rather than on streets or in parking lots.
Commissioner Louis Jackson suggested reaching out to other law enforcement agencies, including the Arkansas State Police, which has jurisdiction over Parris Towers because it is within 5 miles of the Governor’s Mansion.
Juan Dukes, a member of the Parris Towers resident council, said the building’s security guards are not enough to deter “disrespectful” and criminal behavior, particularly from younger residents who are new to the complex.
“If the dogs aren’t walking and you don’t see a badge, these young people here don’t give a care about nothing,” Dukes said.
“I’m afraid something’s going to happen, and it’s going to be all over CNN, it’s going to be news big-time,” he said later in an interview with the Democrat-Gazette.
Dukes also said the Little Rock Fire Department used to respond to emergency calls from Parris Towers. Fire Department personnel could not be reached to provide comment Thursday afternoon.
Commissioner Leta Anthony told Dukes during the board meeting that resident councils are responsible for keeping their own records of incidents as they happen.
“If you are not documenting dates, times and who’s involved and keeping a record of those things, it’s almost like it didn’t happen [and] you are just a voice in the wilderness,” Anthony said.
Housing authority executive director Nadine Jarmon said she and her staff will look for grant opportunities to fund policing “above baseline protection.”