Little Rock police today responded to a Freedom of Information request for actions that prompted the recommendation that Mayor Frank Scott Jr. have a police security detail on daily rounds.
The only report of a specific threat was the previously reported telephone threat to bomb a meeting of the Little Rock City Directors Feb. 19. Scott, informed of the threat, ended the meeting and the building was cleared. No bomb was found and no arrest was made. The telephone threat to the police emergency number did not threaten any city official by name. This is the recording of the threat.
Additionally, in response to my request for any communications — texts, emails, memors — between the mayor’s office, police or anyone else regarding mayoral security, the FOI produced a single response. It was an e-mail from Acting Chief Wayne Bewley to Scott on Feb. 26, with emphasis supplied to a couple of sentences:
I have been putting a considerable amount of thought into many of the issues/concerns we have discussed over the last month about your safety as you serve the citizens as our Mayor. Since your election, we’ve discussed safety issues causing great concern to you, your family and our police department. You are the face of our City and are in the public’s eye every day as you conduct business for the city. Also, many of the decisions you are faced with can be controversial and often opposed by a number of individuals.
With that in mind and considering the actual threat during the City Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday, February 19, I recommend LRPD provide you a daily security detail as you carry out official city business. I am not sure exactly what this will look like, but I think it is appropriate that we discuss this issue as soon as possible to ensure your safety as you lead our City, because we are in uncharted waters under your leadership. Accordingly, as interim chief, I believe it is LRPD’s duty to protect and serve you as mayor by providing a security detail going forward.
We are Arkansas’ capital city and I feel that given today’s climate we can never be too cautious. Having a new class of police officers on the force, providing a security detail would not be a detriment to our staffing and would cause no disruption to our current operations.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss this further at your convenience.
And it was done, apparently without further formal communications by anyone, after Scott named Keith Humphrey permanent police chief. Scott said Humphrey had also suggested a security detail. If any threats have been made against Scott, there is no police or city record of them.
I’ve asked a mayor’s spokesman about the references I highlighted. What concerns did Scott express to the police? Were there threats to him and his family? If there were, were reports taken and investigations undertaken?
I’m also curious at Bewley’s reference to “uncharted waters” under Scott’s leadership. Does he reference the fact that Scott is the city’s first elected black mayor? And if that is the intended reference, is this a suggestion that a black leader might be more at risk than a white leader? I’ve also asked the mayor’s office about this.
Coincidentally, I heard yesterday from Mark Stodola, who left office after 12 years as mayor at the end of 2018. He confirmed my recollection on security and drivers during his tenure.
No, LRPD never suggested and I never requested security. And, yes I drive myself in my personal vehicle.
After I remarked that times might have changed, he responded:
You may recall in 2017 when we had an escalation of drive bys, I went to gang members homes about calling a truce on retaliation shootings. Yes maybe things have changed. Since threats have been made, I hope LRPD is following up, there are a lot of crazy people out there.
The police department also provided today an April 23 memo seeking applications to serve as the mayor’s drivers. The mayor’s office had said previously that two detectives would be assigned. Applications are to be accepted through May 6, though he’s already receiving police escorts by police vehicle. From the memo: