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Can you hear me now?
Officers of the North Little Rock Police Department are grumbling about a request by Chief Danny Bradley for copies of their personal cell phone records. The request grew out of Bradley's concern that some officers are spending too much time talking on the phone while on duty, and that some were driving while talking on the cell phone, which is against departmental regulations. Officers are allowed to redact records of calls made while not on duty. Everything else must be handed over.
Chief Bradley said a policy has been in effect since 2004 warning officers that their personal cell phones and cell phone records are subject to inspection. This is the first time the NLRPD has made a blanket request for records. Bradley said he has sent out several memos to remind officers not to spend too much time chatting while on duty, but they have largely gone unheeded.
In recent years, Bradley said, police administrators nationwide have become increasingly concerned about the use of cell phones as a way for on-duty officers to communicate that is not subject to administrative review. While not suggesting anything nefarious is going on in North Little Rock, Bradley said that cell phones have figured into several high-profile police corruption cases elsewhere in recent years.
Bradley has told department administrators to flag any record in which an officer spends more than 15 minutes per shift talking on the phone on personal business, or one hour on the phone in total per shift. He said he wouldn't speak hypothetically about what punishment might be meted out to those who have spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone.
A call to the North Little Rock chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police went unreturned at press time.
Friday, Jan. 23, the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission will consider changing a regulation that currently allows surface discharge of sewage and other wastewater in the Lake Maumelle Watershed.
Martin Maner, the director of watershed management for Central Arkansas Water (CAW), says it's a no-brainer.
“You don't want sewage discharging into a creek that feeds a lake that serves as a major water supply,” Maner said.
Maybe there's a lack of brains at PC&E. CAW asked for the change last February. But the commission deferred to county governments — Pulaski, Perry and Saline. None enacted regulations of its own, so the matter finally is coming back to the commission.
Maner says he has an idea why the commission deferred to the county governments as opposed to simply changing the state regulation.
“I think some of the commissioners got lobbied pretty hard by some land owners in the area and they felt like it needed to start on a local level and go up,” Maner said. “But the state already has the resources in place in terms of inspectors, enforcement and all the legal action that needs to be done whereas the counties don't have any of that. That's just one reason, but there are all kinds of reasons why it should be under ADEQ and not the county, but that's what they chose to do.”
Some landowners didn't have to go far to lobby PC&E. PC&E commissioner Thomas Schueck is an investor, along with Jay DeHaven, in a large sod farm land in the Maumelle watershed. The development of that land would be a departure from the management plan backed by CAW. Schueck could not be reached for comment.