Press conference announced for new task force to help fight violence, crime

Formal announcement of task force to be made in the coming weeks

Press conference announced for new task force to help fight violence, crime
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A press conference has been set for the announcement of a new task force that will soon hit the streets of Region 8 working to reduce crime in the area.

The press conference will be Friday at 1:30 p.m. at Craighead County Judge Marvin Day’s office.

In an email, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Grant DeProw said the purpose of the press conference was to make a major announcement relative to law enforcement in Northeast Arkansas. Federal Officials as well as representatives from law enforcement in multiple cities and counties in Region 8 will also attend.

The press conference comes on the heels of an informal announcement that came Thursday Jan. 4th, as Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott addressed the city council, assuring them his department was doing everything it could to keep citizens safe.

The city rang in 2019 with two murders: one on West Huntington Avenue on Jan. 1 and the other on Galaxy Street on Jan. 2.

Markus Gentry was arrested for the Huntington Avenue Murder. However, JPD said there are two unknown suspects in the Galaxy Street murder.

“We are looking at putting together a Second Judicial District Organized Criminal Activity Task Force, a lot of this deals with gang activity," Chief Elliott said Thursday night.

Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott addresses the Jonesboro City Council following days of violence in the city. He announced the formation of a special task force.
Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott addresses the Jonesboro City Council following days of violence in the city. He announced the formation of a special task force. (Source: KAIT-TV)

Second Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington released a statement exclusively to Region 8 News. The statement gave more details on how the Elliott and Ellington formed the idea of the partnership.

Ellington said it started with a 2017 mass shooting in Downtown Jonesboro at The Basement on Main.

“We began to see how witnesses stories aligned to favor one of two or three narratives depending on who or what group that person affiliated with,” Ellington told Region 8 News.

JPD made that discovery as well. Ellington said JPD had already begun compiling a database of previous arrests and their known affiliates.

“We decided it was past time to combine our work product hoping to increase our effectiveness in maintaining public safety and especially preserving law and order,” Ellington said.

While the informal announcement mainly involved Ellington’s office and JPD, more partnerships are involved, just unannounced.

Ellington said the new task force will be different from the long-standing, state-sanctioned drug task forces.

The following is Ellington’s full statement to Region 8 News:

Scott Ellington (Source: KAIT-TV)
Scott Ellington (Source: KAIT-TV)

As we were preparing the case that is commonly referred to as the Basement Shooting, we began to see how witnesses’ stories aligned to favor one of two or three narratives, depending on who or what group that person affiliated with. When we discussed with detectives at JPD, we learned they were way ahead of us and had already begun compiling a database of those previously arrested and their known affiliates.

We decided it was past time to combine our work product, hoping to increase our effectiveness in maintaining public safety and especially preserving law and order. The months of November and December were very busy for my office and Chief Elliott’s department, so we weren’t able to make a formal announcement or unveil our plans for this task force - not that such an announcement would have prevented the madness that occurred this week.

However, we hope to be able to make that official announcement with all our participating partners within the next few weeks. But rest assured, even though we haven’t named our other partners, we are still drawing upon those resources this very minute as we seek to protect the public and enforce the law.

Scott Ellington, Second Judicial Prosecuting Attorney

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