More here on the curious case of Surgeon General Joe Thompson, arrested at the door of his home on Ridgeway in Hillcrest by Little Rock cops who didn’t like his demeanor. Police tapes disclosed yesterday, which include audio of the encounter and video of Thompson being walked into the Little Rock police station, already had done little to support cops’ claim of drunk and disorderly behavior by Thompson.
Now we have the 911 tape in which a private security cop called police on Thompson, who’d confronted him about his presence on the street. You can hear Thompson briefly, giving the address of his house.
In the 911 tape, you’ll hear Stephens Inc., private security force employee Jacob Farque ask for police to be dispatched because Thompson “kept getting in my face.” We’ve as yet to hear an explanation from anyone about how this is a crime, but the dispatcher readily sent cops for Farque, who told dispatch he was on duty. As the recording shows, Thompson had walked away from Farque during a later part of the call. Farque drove down the street to await arrival of the police. Farque told the 911 dispatcher that he was armed. The dispatcher responded, “Hope you don’t have to use it.”
Farque is one of 42 people employed by Stephens Inc. for security who are licensed to carry weapons on the job. Thompson has said he went to Farque with questions on a Saturday night because Farque was sitting at the curb in a Tahoe working on a computer and Thompson thought he might be tapping into his home wireless signal. He objected to Farque’s presence. Farque said his job was to patrol neighborhoods, including the block on Ridgeway on which Thompson lives, in which key Stephens executives live.
When police arrived, they evinced little interest in Thompson’s complaint about Farque and ultimately took Thompson to the ground to cuff him when he objected to being questioned at the front door of his home. It was during this encounter that a cop pointed a flashlight beam in Thompson’s face and complained that Thompson had gotten in his “personal space.”
NOTED: This is from the state handbook of regulations for security officers: “All commissioned security shall carry their weapon only on their assigned site in the performance of their duties. The carrying of the weapon will be prohibited if the commissioned security officer is not performing his/her duties.”
Can “assigned site” be translated to include the entire city of Little Rock? If you work for a billionaire, apparently so. This, perhaps, is another indication that the surgeon general’s arrest — as embarrassing and difficult for him as it has been — may yet prove to serve a broader public good in addressing overzealous security guards with overexpansive views of their legal authority and power-mad Little Rock cops.