MORE POLICE ESCORTS: Detail doubled to hold down overtime.

Mitch McCoy at KARK/Fox 16 confirmed a rumor that has circulated since Frank Scott Jr. took office as Little Rock mayor in January — that he wanted a police security detail, much as the governor uses the State Police to be driven around.

I’ve requested specifics from the mayor’s office. Is it a full-time police escort service? How many officers and vehicles will it entail?

When Mark Stodola was mayor, he generally drove himself around (famously getting his vehicle stolen once by someone who’d figured out his practice of stowing the keys on the top of a tire.)

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Scott’s plans to draw on the police for this service comes at a time when he’s talking about expanding the police force and figuring out a way to do it with a constricted budget.

Confirmation of the detail came today from the LRPD. My questions on this weeks ago went unanswered at City Hall. My original tip said there’d been resistance to providing the detail. Of course, there’s now a new police chief, chosen by the mayor.

UPDATE: The mayor’s office has not responded to my questions, but it did issue this statement by Scott:

In the months since I was elected, I have been made aware of serious safety concerns. It is critical to me that I remain accessible and approachable to the people of Little Rock, but I feel that it is equally important that I respect the professionals of the Little Rock Police Department, whose job is to protect all of us from harm.

Then-Interim Chief Wayne Bewley first advised that I accept protection in February. When Chief Keith Humphrey arrived in Little Rock, he made the same recommendation, advising me to accept security detail out of an abundance of caution and in keeping with the best practices of many similarly situated cities around the country. I have accepted the detail because I agree with the Chiefs that the people of Little Rock deserve to know that their mayor is protected and that our

Safety concerns? Did these arise on the election of Scott? I’ve asked for specifics on any police reports or communication that gave rise to this concern.

UPDATE: KATV quotes City Director Kenneth Richardson as questioning the expenditure.

“I have not been made aware of this request and my main concern would be, how is this being paid for? Are the taxpayers paying for this, and if so, at what cost? What are the circumstances that made this request necessary?” Richardson questioned.

Richardson said, “I’m not sure that’s an appropriate use of taxpayers’ dollars.” Richardson told KATV he plans to follow-up with the city attorney to see if that’s a proper use of the city’s police force.

I”d earlier put a question to City Hall myself about the legality of the expenditure and renewed a question I’d asked weeks ago about the report that Scott had sought and been denied a police detail when he first took office.

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UPDATE: KATV quotes City Director Kenneth Richardson as questioning the expenditure.

“I have not been made aware of this request and my main concern would be, how is this being paid for? Are the taxpayers paying for this, and if so, at what cost? What are the circumstances that made this request necessary?” Richardson questioned.

Richardson said, “I’m not sure that’s an appropriate use of taxpayers’ dollars.” Richardson told KATV he plans to follow-up with the city attorney to see if that’s a proper use of the city’s police force.

I”d earlier put a question to City Hall myself about the legality of the expenditure and renewed a question I’d asked weeks ago about the report that Scott had sought and been denied a police detail when he first took office.

 

UPDATE: Stephanie Jackson, who handles public relations for the mayor sent responses to some but not all of my questions:

How many police officers will be detailed? Two

Will cars be assigned? A police vehicle is being used

What are the parameters of the duties? Escorting/presence with the mayor

Are there specific reports/complaints/threats that gave rise to the citation of “safety concerns.” I don’t have the details of the concerns; the answer to that question would come from PD.

Is it true that the mayor sought a detail at the begining of his term but was told it wasn’t possible? No, that is not true.

Does the mayor believe he’s in more danger than previous mayors? I don’t have information about previous mayors and safety to answer that.

Who will choose the officers for the detail? PD chose the officers.

What previous assignments will they be taken from? They were in the Detectives Division.