Some more comments have been made in response to my requests for reaction to the bombshell reporting by the Washington Post’s Radley Balko on questionable tactics by Little Rock police drug raid teams.

City Director Doris Wright joined Vice Mayor Kathy Webb’s earlier expression of concern.

I learned about this issue on last night; I found the article very disturbing and I have requested more information on the procedures used in these raid and the rationale behind their use.

City Director Lance Hines ducked the question in the same manner Mayor Mark Stodola and several others have.

Since the subject of this article is part of an ongoing litigation with the city I won’t have any comment. I look forward to seeing all the facts of the case come out at trial. 

The article is about MUCH more than the lawsuit filed pro se last year by Roderick Talley, victim of an unsubstantiated, door-exploding SWAT bust. It’s about a pattern of poorly supported search warrants, disproportionate targeting of minorities and the wide use of dangerous and unnecessary tactics. It is about police department management and City Hall countenance of that management.

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Webb has said she hopes for a discussion at the City Board tonight. Citizens of Little Rock should, too. The leading candidates for mayor have all expressed at least some degree of concern. Those on the board unwilling to go even that far are a good example of why change is so desperately needed at City Hall.

Media note: Curiously low profile for this story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, its coverage limited to brief comments from the mayoral candidates and precious little of the meat of Radley Balko’s story, first reported locally here Sunday. It isn’t going away.

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UPDATE: There was some discussion about the issue by the City Board. Russ Racop. a candidate for city director and frequent critic of the police, called for an independent investigation. City Attorney Tom Carpenter, in response for a question, said he didn’t believe the city had broad liability from an unreliable confidential informant who was key in an arrest at the center of the Post article. Mayor Mark Stodola seemed to indicate the informant’s acts related mostly to one case, that of Roderick Talley, who is suing the city, and had been discovered and noted by the prosecutor. Vice Mayor Kathy Webb said she was “disheartened” by the news story and asked questions about policies concerning confidential informants.

City Director Ken Richardson also questioned the type of people used as informants,  people who’ve bargained down their own criminal cases.

Chief Kenton Buckner spoke to answer a question from Richardson about use of criminals as informants. He said a “significant percentage” will have a criminal record. But he said those who are caught trafficking in drugs again will be prosecuted. “It does not give you a blank check to be a criminal,” he said.

Webb asked Buckner for a broader comment on the article. Carpenter interrupted before Buckner could answer, saying he was a defendant in the lawsuit.

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Richardson said the episode suggested to him, again, the value of de-prioritizing marijuana arrests. That’s an idea Richardson has floated unsuccessfully though it has been adopted in many cities. In some of the busts cited by the Post after SWAT raids, the only drug arrests that resulted, if any, were minor marijuana offenses.