, assistant chief of the Louisville, Ky., Police Department, will be the next Little Rock police chief, I learned today from the same source who reported over the weekend that City Manager Bruce Moore
would announce his choice today. UPDATE: It was officially announced in an e-mail I received at 2:23 P.M.
Buckner was chosen over an in-house candidate, Assistant Little Rock Police Chief Eric Higgins
, and John Ray,
executive chief deputy of the Tarrant County sheriff's office. All had made visits to Little Rock. Higgins enjoyed support, based on published accounts, from many in the Little Rock rank and file.
Buckner will succeed Stuart Thomas
, a Little Rock native who's retiring June 27. His generally successful run followed a tumultuous tenure of Lawrence Johnson. Last year, Buckner was candidate for the top police job in Newport News, Va. Buckner goes to work June 30. He'll be paid $135,000, a city spokesman said.
Buckner, 45, joined the Louisville force in 1993 and became assistant chief in 2011. During his visit with the community in Little Rock, he talked of seeking out partners in the church, community, social service agencies and school to address crime roots. He touted work he'd done in Louisville in community policing. City Director Ken Richardson
, who represents a neighborhood with a high crime rate and home to a rising police substation on 12th Street that could be a game-changer for the neighborhood, spoke highly after the visit of Buckner's remarks on targeting at-risk kids and getting offenders back into productive roles.
Buckner, who is black, also addressed the unhappiness in some parts of the black community about police tactics. He said he was a leader who'd admit mistakes and work on the healing process. "You hold me accountable," he was quoted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Buckner has a bachelor's degree in police administration and a master's in safety, security and emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University. He is also a graduate of the Southern Police Institute's Administrative Officer's Course and the NOBLE Chief Executive Officer Mentoring Program from Cedarville College, according to the Louisville police website.
Buckner was paid $115,226 last year in Louisville. The Little Rock job is authorized to pay up to $140,199.
UPDATE: The city news release follows:
Little Rock City Manager Bruce T. Moore announced today that he had selected Kenton T. Buckner to become the next Chief of Police for the City of Little Rock.
Chief Buckner, who currently serves as Assistant Chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department, will become the 37th leader of the Little Rock Police Department, which was established in 1866. He will succeed Chief Stuart Thomas who is retiring at the end of June after serving as Chief since March 2005. Chief Buckner’s first day on the job in Little Rock will be June 30, 2014. He'll be paid $135,000, a city spokesman said.
“I am excited to have Chief Buckner lead the Little Rock Police Department,” said Moore. “Throughout his career he has shown a strong commitment to not only the police profession but also to public engagement.”
“As those who attended the public forum with Chief Buckner earlier this month saw first-hand, he is excited about interacting with the public,” Moore continued. “He really wants to learn more from the citizens as well as share his ideas with them.”
Kenton Buckner joined the Louisville Metro Police Department in 1993. Since 2011, he has held the rank of Assistant Chief. He oversees the Support Bureau which contains Major Crimes, Narcotics/Intelligence and Special Operations.
Chief Buckner started with the Louisville Metro Police Department as an Officer and rose through the ranks to Sergeant (2004), Lieutenant (2008), and Major (2009). He has worked as a patrolman and plainclothes detective and has overseen homicide investigations, training, patrol, special operations, SWAT, community relations, major crimes, and narcotics/intelligence.
“Chief Buckner’s broad range of experience shows his depth and breadth of knowledge about what it takes to be an outstanding police officer. Through his positions, he has exhibited his ability to be an outstanding administrator as well. This understanding of fiscal matters is important as the Little Rock Police Department continues to be involved in the capital programs and other special projects,” noted Moore.
“When I first visited with Chief Buckner, I told him (as I tell every applicant I interview for any position) that citizen engagement is a top priority of mine and the Mayor and the City Board. He has extensive experience in that area as well,” said Moore. “Chief Buckner has managed and coordinated Citizens Police Academies including those specifically designed for Latinos, youth, women, senior citizens and hearing impaired. He also has coordinated a civilian volunteer program.”
He has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from Eastern Kentucky University. He has also participated in law enforcement training programs sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Southern Police Institute and the NOBLE Chief Executive Officer Mentoring Program at Cedarville College.
Chief Buckner has been a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Kentucky Police Chiefs Association, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and Police Executive Research Forum. He has also been involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Among his professional accomplishments are participation in a National Counter-Terrorism Seminar in Israel, Spanish Immersion Program in Mexico, and U. S. Secret Service Dignitary Protection Seminar. He has also been an Adjunct Criminal Justice Instructor and participated in a management audit of the Cincinnati Police Department.