By Ray King

Pine Bluff Police are planning aggressive enforcement action this weekend in an effort to curb drag racing and other illegal activities on city streets, linked in large part to groups coming to the city from other parts of the state.

During a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee Wednesday, Assistant Chief Kelvin Hadley said Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies and Arkansas State Troopers will team up with Pine Bluff officers during the effort.

Hadley said he has also talked to wrecker companies in the city to ensure that drivers who receive citations will also have their vehicles towed.

He said reported crime in Pine Bluff increased 17.66 percent in March compared to March 2020 with a significant part of that increase resulting from property-related crimes, specifically thefts, theft of motor vehicles, and commercial burglaries. Residential burglaries declined last month compared to March 2020.

Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell said there were 10 more fires reported in March than there were in February but there was nothing significant in the monthly numbers.

Howell then asked if a timeline had been determined for when discussions will begin on a salary and benefits package for firefighters. He said his department is budgeted for 100 firefighters and he has about 90 on staff now. Five of those are on long-term absences such as military and the current salary and benefits package is not sufficient to attract applicants.