New Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey talks to protestors outside City Hall.Brian Chilson
Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, new LRPD Police Chief Keith Humphrey said he and Mayor Frank Scott Jr. will be talking to the U.S. Department of Justice about establishing a citizen review board or citizen advisory committee. He said he’s “reviewing all policies” of the department, including its policy on no-knock search warrants. He also asked for “patience” from the community and the family of Bradley Blackshire, who was killed by LRPD Officer Charles Starks after a traffic stop in February, regarding both the LRPD and the Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley’s investigations into the incident. 

Humphrey said that in the “very near future,” he and Mayor Scott will be speaking with the Department of Justice to develop “the best [advisory] board or committee” for the city. The policy will be tailored to Little Rock, as Humphrey said he and Scott “do not want to use a canned program.” 

The chief reminded press that the city has issued Requests For Proposals for body-worn cameras, but said that the process “takes time,” and the department wants to establish a policy on the cameras. He said it will also create a process in which officers can test whatever camera the department chooses, and he expects to receive the bids soon.  

On no-knock warrants, Humphrey did not say much, other than that it is his “responsibility” to review “all policies and procedures here in our department.” 

“That’s what makes your department credible,” he said. 

Humphrey then expressed his “sympathy and condolences” to the Blackshire family, whose supporters gathered in protest on Markham Street Tuesday afternoon to demand that Jegley file charges against Starks. He also said his “heart goes out” to Starks and his family, saying that “when you have an event of this nature, it’s tragic on both sides. 

“We understand that the [Blackshire] family is hurting, we totally understand that,” Humphrey said. “Keep in mind that Officer Starks’ family is also hurting. I’m not trying to compare the two; by no means would I ever do that. But I think we have to think about both families.” 

Humphrey said the LRPD’s administrative investigation into the shooting, conducted by the Internal Affairs department, runs concurrently with the prosecuting attorney’s criminal investigation. Humphrey said he “understands” the lengthy investigation process is “frustrating,” but asked citizens to be patient because there is a “consistent process to follow” and the department wants to “make sure that everyone receives due process.” 

He added that Jegley has not given him any timeline as to when the investigation will be complete. 

Humphrey then spoke about the protestors, saying the LRPD respects the rights of citizens to protest because “it’s very important for us not to interfere with citizens’ rights.” 

“We understand there is going to be civil disobedience,” Humphrey said. “However, we don’t want civil unrest. We want all First Amendment protests to be peaceful. That’s the main thing that I want emphasized here. We want any protest, all protests, all expressions of the First Amendment, we want them to be civil. … We don’t want to see any property damage, we don’t want to see anybody injured, and [with] the citizens that I spoke with directly earlier this week, there was no indication that they had planned any civil disobedience or they had planned anything other than a peaceful protest. We ask them to continue to express their First Amendment rights in a civil way.” 

Humphrey reiterated that “everything I said we were going to do here in the Little Rock Police Department, we are going to fulfill those promises,” stressing the importance of “transparency.” 

“That’s the key to a successful relationship between the community and our police department,” Humphrey said. “I want to be held accountable.” 

He added that he was “honored” to speak with protestors on Tuesday, saying he understands their frustration and concerns. 

“It’s all about communicating,” Humphrey said. “I thought it was very important for me the other day to actually go down and speak with the protestors and listen. A lot of times, we don’t have to say anything. People just want to express their concerns, and that’s very important. I felt that it was important.” 

Asked by a reporter if he had any knowledge of the FBI looking into both the Blackshire case and in the case of Roderick Talley, the plaintiff in a lawsuit with the city over police practices during no-knock search raids, Humphrey said he’d not personally spoken with the FBI and had no direct knowledge of such contact.