Interim police chief targets homicides


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Interim Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks has a plan to reduce the number of homicides in the city this year. His common sense proposal is long overdue.

More than three out of four homicides here are drug-related and the victim is often involved with individuals selling or using drugs. “This is where the murders are coming from, and it’s just a no-brainer for Vice (detectives) to go in there and deal with this,” Hubanks said.

“We’re going to expand our capability of dealing with drug crimes and as a byproduct of getting mid- and upper-level dealers off the street, homicides will drop,” Hubanks explained.

Vice and narcotics officers are usually involved in what is called problem-oriented policing. They also depend on citizens providing them with information on unlawful activities. Providing officers with information on suspected drug trafficking can save lives.

Utilizing that tactic, Hubanks believes the homicide rate can fall by 25 percent this year. However, a 50 percent reduction is his goal.

We had 18 murders in Pine Bluff in 2012. Even with a 50 percent reduction we would still have a murder rate three times the national average for homicides.

Training, additional officers on the streets and assigning veteran officers to positions where their experience can be used will go a long way to accomplishing Hubanks’ goals.

Problem-oriented policing is not rocket science. It means identifying the source of the problem, then expending your resources to solve that problem.

It’s called less talk and more action.

Familiar face

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Gov. Mike Beebe on Thursday named former state Rep. Robert S. Moore Jr. of Arkansas City to a 10-year term on the Arkansas Highway Commission.

It may go down as one of Beebe’s better appointments as governor. Moore is well known in Southeast Arkansas and knows state government from the inside out.

A graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, he is an Army veteran of Vietnam. After returning home, he earned his law degree and went to work for then-Attorney General Jim Guy Tucker. In 1977, Gov. David Pryor appointed him as chairman of the Arkansas Transportation Commission.

He also served on the staff of Gov. Bill Clinton and served two decades as director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control. Elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2006, he served three terms in the lower chamber, including two years as House speaker.

Moore led the Legislature to the voter initiative that raised the sales tax for a highway building program. Beebe described him as a “champion of highways.”

State highway officials have said the state will have about $4 billion available to cover nearly $20 billion in highway needs over the next decade.

Moore pledged to “look for innovative new ways to meet the challenges on our deficiency in highway funding so that we will have the funds available in the future to ensure that we can retain the roads that we have and build the roads that we need.”

He will provide a strong voice representing Southeast Arkansas on the commission.