Former Pine Bluff police officer Kerry Price Sr. now battles crime as pastor of a local church. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
When the Rev. Kerry Price Sr. talks about crime prevention and making the city safer, people listen.
They listen because not only can Price talk the talk, he can walk the walk.
A former Pine Bluff police officer, Price also served on the Civil Service Commission, and began what he called the “Peace Movement” after moving to Pine Bluff from Los Angeles in 1981 and joining the police force.
“I was doing the same thing in Los Angeles, going to the streets and talking to people,” Price said.
Price founded the Breath of Life Church while still on the police force. He and his congregation go to homes passing out literature and talking to residents.
“We’ve broken down the city into zones just like the police department has and we literally go house to house,” Price said. “Being a former police officer, I’ve gone into homes where ministers were usually not welcome and seen the needs of those people. That’s never left me, even after I left the police force.”
He left the police department in 1986 to devote full time to his ministry.
As a former member of the Civil Service Commission, Price said he has had contact with officers and firefighters who were promoted during his term, and is proud of the fact that they remember him, and what he was a part of doing.
“I was asked four different times to get back on the commission, and they still call me to come down and sit on promotion boards (which replaced the commission when it was abolished by the Pine Bluff City Council),” Price said.
While he is no longer a police officer, Price said his heart is still with the department. He sometimes rides along with officers, and he encourages other ministers to do the same.
“In order to bring peace to this city, we’ve all got to be involved because the police can’t do it by themselves,” Price said. “We’ve got to be their eyes and ears and if we all work together, we will see light at the end of the tunnel.”
Price said Mayor Debe Hollingsworth and interim Police Chief Jeff Hubanks have expressed a number of ideas and programs that he believes will help to turn the city around.
“She not only has an agenda, she has said how it’s going to get done,” Price said.
Regarding Hubanks, Price said “the morale of the department is higher now than it’s ever been and I would love to see him become the permanent chief.”
Price also applauded Hubanks’ plan to concentrate on major drug dealers as a way to reduce the crime in the city.
“If we can take care of the drug problem, we can take care of the crime problem,” he said.
Although he said he has been encouraged to seek public office, Price said he believes he can do more by staying where he is.
“I want to see Pine Bluff get better and I believe there are great changes in store,” he said. “I’m beginning to see things turn around. The (Pines) mall has a new owner and there’s an awakening there, Walgreen’s has located here, and there are other things coming.
“It’s going to take all of us standing up and saying we’re not going to take it (crime and violence) anymore,” Price said. “Parents need to be involved in their children’s lives so that the children don’t turn to the so-called gangs.
“I’ve seen real gangs in Los Angeles and what we’ve got here are just wannabes,” Price said.
A small card that Price and his congregation hand out while going house to house emphasizes his goals, “making Pine Bluff a better city, a city of peace. Violence, crime, gangs, drugs and hatred will cease. For it is written in Psalm 34:14
“Depart from evil and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”