UAPB interim chancellor links education to reduced crime, economic development

Improving education is the key to reducing crime and stimulating economic development, the interim chancellor at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff said at a community meeting Tuesday.

Speaking at the monthly Coffee with the Chief’s program, Calvin Johnson said “educated people act different.”

“Education in the public schools is struggling and we have to support public schools because children deserve the best we can provide them,” Johnson said. “If you give people the opportunity to work, it can change their mindset.”

Johnson said UAPB has taken over the responsibility of managing the adult education programs in the county, creating a structure that “helps people get on track.

“Lack of education cripples a community and we have a serious deficit here,” he said.

Johnson said public schools “mirror the image of the community they’re located in.

“We all want schools to be successful because they provide a better community,” he said. “We all want the same thing: A healthy, wholesome thriving community. The future is in the hands of our young people, but if we don’t prepare them properly, they won’t be there.”

Speaking directly to the law enforcement officers and firemen attending the monthly meeting at First Trinity Church of God in Christ, Johnson said “most of us have a lot of confidence in the police department and fire department.

“People can bicker and talk but at the end of the day, we appreciate what you do,” he said.

Also Tuesday, Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell announced that the Insurance Services Office has lowered the city’s rating from a three to a two, effective Aug. 1.

“The lower the rating, the better a fire department is doing and getting a new rating means better insurance rates,” Howell said.

He said there are more than 1,000 fire departments in the state, and only 15 of them have Class Two ratings.

He said the last time the department was rated was in 2000, when it received 77 points out of a possible 100. The new rating, based on an ISO survey last year, was 85, an increase of eight points.

Howell said he planned to talk to several insurance agents before making a statement about how much of a rate reduction home owners might receive as a result of the lower rating.