FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The Fayetteville Police Chief points to the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor when it comes to Fayetteville’s spike in crime rates.
KNWA/FOX24’s Samantha Boyd sat down with Chief Mike Reynolds to talk about this increase in crime in Fayetteville and shortly after learned of a shooting a few miles down the road.
While the condition of the victim is still unknown, one neighbor said the crimes are starting to hit close to home.
It’s scary to move here thinking we’re coming to a safe neighborhood and finding out that it isn’t safe and that there are shootings happening nearby.”-SKYE OLIVER, FAYETTEVILLE RESIDENT
Oliver moved to Fayetteville a year ago. She lives down the street from where a shooting happened Thursday afternoon.
“It makes me not feel welcome,” she said.
She is concerned about the crime being so close to her own home and family. Chief Mike Reynolds said his concern is also the rise in crime over the last few years.
We’ve lost two 16-year-olds in the last year because they’ve been shot and to me, it’s just senseless.”-CHIEF MIKE REYNOLDS, FAYETTEVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT
Reynolds said violent crimes are up 29% since the start of the pandemic. That includes homicides, aggravated assaults, rapes, robberies and thefts.
In 2019, the city saw 10 people injured from shootings and two killed. In 2020 when the pandemic hit, there were 18 shooting where 11 people were injured and seven were murdered- reaching an all-time high for the FPD.
“Certainly in any community we have hot spots where crimes are more prevalent, but we see that hot spots are growing,” Reynolds said.
According to Reynolds, most of the calls are coming in from the southeast part of Fayetteville, the west side of town off Weddington and Dean Street, near where the new police headquarters is being built.
“For me it’s a major concern,” Reynolds said. “A concern for the community a concern certainly for the safety of our officers as well.”
Oliver said this spike in crime could eventually push her and her young daughter out of town.
“It definitely makes me think twice about making a home here staying here after my program ends,” she said. “I don’t want to stay in a place where the crime rates are rising.”
Just a few months ago, KNWA/FOX24 reported on the staffing shortage at the Fayetteville Police Department. Reynolds said just this week the police department requested an increase in headcount in its 2022 budget from the City of Fayetteville. He is confident this will play a part in bringing the crime rates back down.