By Ray King

Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant on Thursday said he understands the calls to defund police after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and the subsequent death of a man in Atlanta, both at the hands of police officers, but taking money from police or police departments is the wrong approach.

“I understand the message the people are saying,” Sergeant said on the Oldies 101.3 morning show. “They are kind of tired of some of the things that have been going on around the country and they want their voice to be heard.”

He said that like everyone else, police officers in Pine Bluff are hearing and seeing what’s going on around the country and it’s affecting them and making some of them tentative when it comes to doing their jobs.

“We’re trying to encourage them to do the job as the policy has instructed and mandated and you’ll be just fine,” Sergeant said.

Sergeant also said that the current attention being paid to law enforcement and calls for change has raised concerns not only that some current officers might be considering other careers but also the recruiting of new officers.

Asked about crime in Pine Bluff, particularly the number of homicides that have been reported, Sergeant said while some have been to retaliatory, others have no relationship at all.

Sergeant also talked about the most recent incident where a civilian was killed by a law enforcement officer, this one the death of a man in Atlanta who was shot in the back after running from police.