Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. plans to issue an executive order requiring face coverings to be worn in the city. Scott said he’d asked the city attorney to draft the order and expected it to be ready early next week. At a press conference, Scott provided no elaboration on the specifics of the order or what penalties could be imposed for violating the requirement. I’ve asked his spokesperson for more details as well an explanation for why the mayor was exploring an executive order rather than a city ordinance approved by the Board of Directors.
Scott said the ordinance wouldn’t “interfere with the commerce restrictions within the state’s order,” likely referencing Governor Hutchinson’s executive orders that prevent cities from imposing any health-related restrictions that interfere with commerce. On Tuesday, the Fayetteville City Council voted unanimously to require people in that city to wear a mask despite advice from the Fayetteville city attorney that the ordinance was likely in conflict with state law.
Today during his daily press briefing, Governor Hutchinson said such local moves were in conflict with his executive orders and discouraged other cities from following suit. Scott, at his press conference, said the city had long been discussing such a move.
The mayor also announced the the Little Rock Police Department would eliminate neck restraints, or chokeholds, from its training and force continuum. The ban will take effect in 30 days, Scott said.
“We’ve been listening to protesters throughout this time and many community leaders that understand that we have to employ more police reforms and accountability,” Scott said. “Not only for the community, but also for the police department as we’re all working together to have a 21st century community policing model right here in the city of Little Rock.”
Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey promised that there would continue to be changes within the department. He said that he would continue to push the department to use deescalation tactics more often.
Scott also announced that the city had purchased another 10,000 masks to distribute to people in need.