Saturday, April 29, 2017

EMERGENCY MEETING CALLED AT CITY HALL - LRPD CHIEF SUMMONED TO APPEAR AT A SPECIAL SUNDAY AFTERNOON BOARD MEETING TO ADDRESS SKYROCKETING VIOLENT CRIME



In an unprecedented move, Little Rock's elected officials have scheduled an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon with police chief Kenton Buckner to discuss the spike in gang violence. 

The meeting is set for tomorrow at 3:00 P.M. in the board room at city hall. The meeting is open to the public. 

According to a story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, there have been 12 more homicides so far this year that in the same period last year, with 19 recorded as of Thursday.

The story also reported that there were 71 people who received nonfatal gunfire injuries  as of Thursday, a 92% increase compared with the 37 recorded in the same date last year.  Officials stated that at least 16 of those shootings involved a victim who was participating in gang activity, a drug deal or some kind of crime.  One in five victims refused to cooperate with police.

Both LRPD and Bruce Moore the City Manager have used the term "rival parties" instead of gangs in interviews.

As we reported last Tuesday, at the March 21st city board meeting, Director Dorris Wright asked City Manager Bruce Moore to have the Little Rock Police Department provide information about what was behind a rash of shootings in the city, especially in her ward which encompasses  parts of central and west Little Rock.

The report, which by the way took LRPD a month to create and forward to Moore, did not have much to offer.




Then to throw fuel on the fire, the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police posted this on their Facebook Page.


The LRFPO  blames Moore and the city board for not filling roughly 70 officer vacancies and not keeping officers equipment updated.

We guess that the approximately $400k that the city spent on riot gear for all uniformed officers doesn't count.

Or that huge, state of the art two-story police building building on 12th Street.

Or the $350K the city spent this year for emergency lights and equiptment for first responder units (includes police cars).

Or the nearly half a million dollars the city is spending to lease new police vehicles. Last year an audit found the city spends nearly three million dollars a year on patrol cars that are considered past their service life. The audit also showed the fleet department was overstaffed and inefficient. 
 
And we don't need to bring up the fact (but we will) that over half of all uniformed police officers are not resident's of Little Rock. What business do they have trying to hold the board of directors responsible for anything when they are not voters anyway?  




The department is authorized to fill those vacancies, but too few graduating recruits each year paired with retirements have kept the vacancies consistent.

Even a $5,000 signing bonus is not helping get recruits.
 
That FOP post lit a fire under Director Lance Hines.

Hines said the staffing shortage can't be used as an excuse.
 
"We're short-handed, I understand that. But we have the police force we have, and we're going to have to do the best with what we got," he said.

"I just think the community-policing effort, until we are fully staffed, needs to be put on the back burner. We need to go back to the old-school police tactics and do zero tolerance for any criminal activity, whether that's panhandling on the corner or littering or anything," he said.

"We should have a top 25 hit list of most wanted gang members, and if they spit on the sidewalk, litter, jaywalk, we ought to be running them in. We need to put the word out that we are not going to tolerate this kind of behavior on our streets."

"It's time to stop playing hug a cop and start being a cop,"  Hines said, referring to the department's community-policing initiative, which focuses partially on officers building relationships with community members.
 
Hines said it's common knowledge "on the street" that the slain toddler's father is a gang member.
 
"They know who the suspects [in the toddler's death] are, but won't cooperate with police. The rest of the shootings have been retaliations," Hines said.

HINES KNOWS A "G" WHEN HE SEE'S ONE

Stodola said Buckner will give city directors an update Sunday on what the department's Violence Reduction Unit is working on. He said the city also has been organizing a group of ex-felons who might have some "street credibility" and be able to reach youths potentially involved in crime.

No doubt one of those "former felons" will be Director "Where's Ken" Richardson.

"The recent retaliatory shootings in Little Rock have justifiably upset our community," the mayor said. "We are committed to finding answers to bring a stop to this violence and we want to let the public know what the city is doing about it."


MAYOR STODOLA SAYS WHILE THE GROUPS COULD BE DESCRIBED AS GANGS, THEY DON"T NECESSARILY FIT THE USUAL CHARACTERIZATION OF A GANG

Stodola came under fire a while back for taking over a year to research what Little Rock could do about the ever rising crime rate, after the city was ranked number one for crime for a city of its size.

Stodala couldn't come up with anything and formed a task force to tackle the problem.

Nothing more has ever been said about that task force since then and we have not heard about any findings or recommendations they made.





Chief Buckner has had his own problems, missing handgun, failing marks from a city commission.

What?  You haven't heard about the failing marks?

Last year was rough for Kenton. The board on multiple occasions raised all kinds of a stink about his officers not wanting to live in Little Rock because of the crime and the schools. 

Various groups accused the chief of doing nothing to help the black community in their efforts to stop black-on-black crime.

The chief often posted where he had eaten lunch or went to church on the LRPD Facebook page. Not so much about what he was doing to fight crime.









Most of Buckner's posts have been deleted from the LRPD Facebook page after certain individuals brought him to task about those posts.

Those individuals were blocked from being able to post comments or even see the LRPD Facebook page.  So much for free speech.


LRPD FURNISHED A PARTIAL LISTING OF BLOCKED INDIVIDUALS


In March 2015, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ran a story about claims LRPD made about a 4.9% drop in crime. 

 





Buckner's remarks in the article caused the Little Rock Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission to request a meeting with Chief Buckner. 

Buckner, who often losses his composure when challenged, demanded that the RCD evaluate his performance and give him a letter grade.

They honored his request and he got an "F".









One thing you can bet Chief Buckner will not discuss is the special treatment police officers receive from LRPD when involved in a traffic accident.

Back in March, Buckner was following a vehicle too close and rammed into it causing damage to his city owned vehicle and the vehicle he struck.

Buckner was not issued a citation even though it was obvious that he was in violation of the law. Not to mention the accident was his fault.

Then in April, he had another accident, again his fault.






Stay tuned for a post about these shenanigans.

If you are planning on attending the Emergency Meeting tomorrow afternoon you better get there early.  

The board room will be packed with news media and seating is extremely limited.