West Memphis officials optimistic after new report shows massive reduction in crime

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Mayor Marco McClendon will be one of the first to admit his town’s reputation was once centered on crime.

“Well, I thought a few years ago, West Memphis was like a haven for crime,” Mayor McClendon said.

West Memphis residents agreed it was a haven for crime because there were too many murders, robberies, assaults and rapes, and they felt police needed to do more.

But a 2020 West Memphis crime report is showing a dramatic reduction in violent crime.

Homicides are down 80%, aggravated assault is down 48%, and robberies are down 77%.

“I think people who have lived in West Memphis for a while, they can see the difference we’ve made in the last year and a half, and I agree with them, I think we have a ways to go, and we are working hard towards that,” assistant police chief Robert Langston said.

This year so far, West Memphis has had only two homicides. Last year, eight people were murdered, and there were 14 the year before.

“You can see the downward trend we ‘re going on,” Langston said. “Our violent crime is always important. We want to continue that, and we’ve talked about our breaking and entering and cars in the neighborhood”

The mayor said what has worked in his administration is using both community-oriented policing and their violent crime suppression unit.

“We have those officers out there shaking hands and letting people know that they’re there, and also we have that unit that is there in case you don’t want to go in that direction, and they’ll be there to meet you,” Mayor McClendon said.

West Memphis is continuing to take steps to change its image by aggressively fighting crime.

“The people of West Memphis are excited about our crime stats, and I am as mayor and think it’s going in a good direction,” McClendon said.

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