Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo took special aim at City Councilman Michael Echols Tuesday night after Echols publicly questioned the Mayo administration’s plans to stem the city’s rising crime rate.
During the City Council’s regular meeting, Echols asked the administration to provide crime statistics reports and proposals for addressing crime in Monroe.
“We continue to see multiple murders, robberies and burglaries, and it is a concern for the citizens not only in District 1, but to all the city of Monroe,” Echols said. “I would ask that someone from the police department, the administration or anywhere to give us a report on both what is happening in our city and what tactical things we are doing. Or at least planning on doing.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Mayo singled out Echols for daring to question his administration.
“I’m not going to sit back and be dictated to,” Mayo said. “I’m not going to allow you without confronting this, to try to spin that and talk about comprehensive plans.”
“We were doing comprehensive plans when you were in grade school,” Mayo added.
According to Mayo, the administration already knew what needed to be done to stem crime in Monroe. Mayo failed to elaborate or specify what those plans entailed.
In an interview with The Ouachita Citizen after the meeting, Mayo would not answer questions about the city’s crime rate or his administration’s plans to combat it.
When asked to detail specifics of his administration’s plans to combat crime, Mayo said, “Councilman Echols is politicizing and grandstanding.”
Mayo criticized Echols for “showing his face” and leaving one community meeting to obtain public input on crime.
“It’s a shame that he would take a serious issue like that to politicize and grandstand, but I know this is a political season,” Mayo said. “Shame on him.”
Echols, who was once considered a likely candidate to oppose Mayo in the 2020 mayoral election, was recently elected – without opposition – to the state House of Representatives. He will be sworn into office in January.
When asked again about the city’s crime rate, Mayo said the homicide rate is higher this year than it was last year.
“We had six homicides last year,” Mayo said. “We have 12, 13 so far this year. So, the homicide rate is higher.”
The Ouachita Citizen reached out to Echols after the meeting concerning Mayo’s pointed remarks.
“I feel sorry for him because the city begs for leadership and vision around the core topics I discussed,” Echols said. “He reverts back to childish tactics instead of facing the issues we have. It’s disappointing. We have all these problems and no solutions.”
City Council members Kenneth Wilson and Eddie Clark each echoed Echols’ concerns about the city’s crime rate.
“We got to go to work. We got to come together,” Wilson said.
“I also want to piggyback off of my colleagues. I think they are correct and crime has gotten out of hand,” Clark said. “Crime has to be addressed and no one can turn a blind eye to it.”
Also during the City Council meeting, Echols asked Mayo’s administration to provide plans for the proposed One-Stop-Shop project. The One-Stop-Shop project entails transforming the former state Department of Children and Family Services building on Stubbs Avenue into a one-stop location for all the city’s major departments.
“Before we spend a million dollars on a building, I would ask the we plan to effectively put together the service we need before we go out and spend money on a facility that we might not have the capacity for all the stuff we need to do,” Echols said.
Echols also asked for plans for the city’s trash pick-up problem that has come to attention in the last month.
“I just ask we come up with something to provide a little bit of relief for the massive amounts of debris that are accumulating around our city,” Echols said. “Those are the things that my constituents are asking me.”