The divided metropolis awaits the mayor’s subsequent transfer, notably relating to the police chief


THE CHIEF’S DEFENDER: Retired decide stands up for embattled police head.

The town of Little Rock was promised a brand new period of unity with the election of Frank Scott Jr. as mayor in 2018, an final result supported by a various cross-section of the town.

Nearly three years later, the town is extra deeply divided than ever. The gross sales tax marketing campaign, during which he took the management function, was defeated handily, by generally smashing margins in precincts as soon as supportive of tax measures. He carried some precincts in neighborhoods the place he was dominant in 2018, however voter enthusiasm was scant and extra divided.

Nowhere is the town division starker than within the ongoing controversy within the Little Rock Police Division over the management of the mayor’s chief, Keith Humphrey. Officers have sued him and he’s sued again. An out of doors guide has described his dealing with of a disciplinary matter as racially discriminatory. Humphrey and others named are Black officers; the officer disciplined was white.

I’ve been informed reliably that there are as many as seven supporters among the many 9 board members for an administrative suspension of Humphrey to type these issues out.
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(Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley seems to be the favourite to serve within the interim.) However that could be a choice solely the mayor could make.
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Thus far, he’s stood by the chief.

The chief has no intention of going quietly. There are indications this week that he’ll proceed to defend himself by saying critics, notably among the many Fraternal Order of Police, are sad about constructive adjustments he’s made within the division and racially motivated.

Retired Circuit Choose Marion Humphrey (no relation to the chief) has made this argument earlier than and he makes it once more right here in a letter to Mayor Scott, the Metropolis Board and others. it illustrates the depth of division on this controversy, the racial element and the unlikeliness that will probably be simply resolved.

The remedy of Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey by sure administrators of the Little Rock Metropolis Board has been a throwback to the outdated days of racial prejudice I had hoped would by no means once more floor. Board members may need been anticipated to behave in another way from that of the management of the Fraternal Order of Police, whose right-wing political agenda is well-known. For instance, the management of the FOP went to the White Home in 1992 to bestow their political endorsement on then-President George H. W. Bush, when then-Governor Invoice Clinton was difficult President Bush. Happily, their political endorsement meant nothing.


I’ve been on the receiving finish of a vote of “no confidence” from the FOP, when the management known as for my removing from the circuit courtroom bench through the years I served.


The FOP has saved up a volley of assaults on Chief Humphrey( no relation to me so far as I do know) ever since  he arrived. Members of the FOP, together with two who wished to have been named chief and didn’t obtain the job, have been brazenly hostile to Chief Humphrey ever since he fired Officer Charles Starks for violating coverage that led to the demise of Bradley Blackshire. The chief’s resolution was right in that occasion and will have been embraced by individuals who consider that it’s mistaken to kill a person—together with one who could be breaking the regulation—if lethal power might be prevented, particularly when the officer didn’t need to step in entrance of the transferring automobile of a suspect, as Starks did.


Now come assaults as a result of Chief Humphrey fired Officer Mattox, who concerned himself in an investigation the place his spouse acknowledged {that a} suspect had uncovered himself to her. Officer Mattox knew higher than to change into concerned in that investigation. His involvement violated division coverage, and he was rightly fired.


Stacey Wetherell, director of Human Sources, employed Dr. Loretta Cochran to judge the police division. If, as I’ve been knowledgeable, Dr. Cochran lives in Pottsville, Arkansas, I’m led to marvel why she was chosen by Ms. Wetherell. What’s Dr. Cochran’s expertise in coping with African People? Is she delicate to problems with range and cultural competence? Have been there not professors at UALR or Philander Smith, who may have accomplished the analysis? Is Dr. Cochran snug with black males serving in positions of authority and who’ve the authority to fireside a white man?


Did she ever state that Officer Matto was justified in involving himself within the investigation? If she believes that it was correct, did she so state in her report? Did she, as some allege, publish the Mattox GOFundMe on her Fb web page?


I’m ashamed of the conduct of these officers who’ve tolerated the abuse of Chief Humphrey throughout his tenure in Little Rock. Maybe, Little Rock is farther behind in race relations than one wish to consider.

Marion A. Humphrey, Sr.

Cochran, a college member at Arkansas Tech, additionally now finds herself beneath the investigative microscope, with FOI requests having been made for electronic mail from her Tech account and, yesterday, a request by Marion Humphrey for metropolis information of her employment and biographical data, together with any work she may need accomplished on “range and fairness.”

Thus far, the mayor has declined to say a lot concerning the chief, citing pending courtroom circumstances. The state of affairs has grown too poisonous for the continued use of that fig leaf. He should give a full-throated and detailed protection of the chief or agree that he’s change into an excessive amount of of a legal responsibility to proceed.

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