The Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police, which has been critical of Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and Chief Keith Humphrey, said today it supported the mayor’s announced intention to review the department.
The FOP release:
The Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police announced today that they welcomed Mayor Scott’s call for review of the Little Rock Police Department and pressed for the investigation to be comprehensive and cover all departments.
FOP President Ronnie Morgan Statements:
“As one of only 700 departments in the world to earn accreditation from the prestigious Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation, we are confident in the best practices and integrity of our rank and file members. But with the Chief’s office engulfed in multiple lawsuits over retaliations against whistleblowers as well as complaints of sexual harassment lodged by multiple women against the Chief,
there is clearly something wrong at the highest levels of our department.”
“To be legitimately independent, the review must be conducted by impartial, third- parties that are certified subject matter experts with a proven track record of taking a thoughtful, objective approach free of any agendas.”
“The stakes are too high for our community and for those of us who protect and serve it. Facts, not politics must lead this investigation. So we hope the Mayor will seek a truly independent panel of experts to seek the truth without regard to rank or title. Anything less will be a betrayal of the publicm trust.”
“We are hopeful that the Mayor is finally recognizing the situation in the Chief’s office and look forward to hearing more about the selection process and when we can get started.”
The mayor hasn’t yet named who’ll be on the review panel. Some skepticism exists. Vice Mayor B.J. Wyrick in a report by KATV on the possibility the attorney general’s office might look into complaints about the chief, became the third city director to publicly make negative remarks about the chief.
Vice Mayor B.J. Wyrick said Wednesday in an email to city directors that she had no confidence in the independent investigation that Scott requested.
“Those seem to be stacked and biased,” Wyrick wrote.
She suggested that the attorney general’s office review Humphrey’s conduct.
“My two cents for this issue stems from the current chief’s actions in working with the rank and file at the police department,” Wyrick told city officials. “I have heard enough to warrant his review.”
Directors Lance Hines and Capi Peck had earlier expressed dissatisfaction with the chief.
The FOP’s statement is almost certainly politically calibrated to sound reasonable in the face of a statement by Scott Tuesday that seemed intended to turn attention to rank-and-file as well as the chief. There are issues there.
Much more to come. But pressure is building. I think a large contingent of directors are hoping media attention will build to the point that Scott has to yield in support of his choice of a chief. Scott has indicated no willingness to yield. And with the Black Police Officers Association lining up behind Humphrey, the familiar racial divide in city politics, a divide that was critical in Scott’s election, seems likely to play an important role. When the mayor talked about the need for a review of “cultural competence’ in the LRPD, he was talking about race relations. The mayor is black. The majority of the police force is white and doesn’t live in Little Rock. The use of force against black people, including the killing last year of a black driver by a white officer, has been a frequent flashpoint. Humphrey fired that officer, many believe pressured by Scott’s wishes. A court overturned the firing. Lawsuits against Humphrey contend, among others, that he’s retaliated against them for criticizing the speed of the internal investigation of Charles Starks’ killing of Bradley Blackshire.
UPDATE: another city director weighed in negatively on KARK
Another member of the Board of Directors is concerned this review could be used to retaliate against officers, especially those who confirmed the Chief pushed ahead a job applicant who should have been disqualified based on city policy.
“The Mayor is acting like the big question is who leaked this? That’s not the big question. The big question is it true,” Joan Adcock said.