Kenton Buckner was sworn in this morning as Little Rock police chief. He succeeds Stuart Thomas, a Little Rock native, who retired after 35 years on the force.

Buckner, most recently assistant chief in Louisville, rose through the ranks there from patrolman to detective and finally administration. City Manager Bruce Moore, who hired Buckner, said he was most impressed with Buckner’s work and outlook on community outreach.

Thomas had, by my lights, a successful run. He put himself on the scene to quiet some potentially inflammatory situations. But, inevitably, tension with some segments of the community arose, particularly in the poor and majority black neighborhoods most afflicted by crime. 

Stop the Violence, a group led by Rev. Benny Johnson, for example planned a visit to Gov. Mike Beebe this morning to call on him to lend his support to do something about violent crime in Little Rock. Crimes rates have not been trending upward overall, but there has been a bulge in homicides this year.

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Buckner has a bachelor’s degree in Police Administration and a master’s degree in Safety, Security and Emergency Management from Eastern Kentucky University. He also graduated from the Southern Police Institute’s Administrative Officer’s Course and the NOBLE Chief Executive Officer Mentoring Program at Cedarville College.