KENNETH RICHARDSON: Calls for action on police-community relations.

KARK was on hand Monday night when City Director Kenneth Richardson made sharp remarks in the aftermath of police arrests of civil rights lawyers John Walker and Omavi Shukur following their efforts to film a police arrest.

Richardson has joined the two other black directors, Erma Hendrix and Doris Wright, in supporting a residency requirement for city police. Most white officers live outside the city and the majority of them have Little Rock police cars to use in commuting to locales as far away as Malvern and Hot Springs. The rest of the board has twice defeated the residency idea. Police have cited the high crime rate and the Little Rock schools (majority black) in explaining decisions to live elsewhere. The majority of black cops live in the city.

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KARK reported:

“I think there’s some parts of our city where our police officers look at it as protect and serve, other parts unfortunately look at patrol and control. Occupy and suppress,” says Richardson.

He says the board’s role is to figure out what kind of policy to put in place to help impact what the city does in terms of hiring police officers.

Richardson called the incident with Representative Walker embarrassing and insulting. 

Charges of obstructing governmental operations were dropped against Walker and Shukur. The confrontation began when two white officers crossed a street to challenge Walker, who was holding up a cell phone as if filming police who’d surrounded a car without a license tag. The driver, a black male, was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

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Chief Kenton Buckner is arranging a meeting with media next week in what appears to be an effort to address any simmering possibility of flareups such as have occurred in Charlotte and Tulsa.