Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Little Rock chief takes questions and pulls no punches in answers

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 1:41 PM

CHIEF KENTON BUCKNER: You have questions? He has answers.
  • CHIEF KENTON BUCKNER: You have questions? He has answers.

David Koon has a good interview with Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner for this week's Arkansas Times Highlights:

* He supports residency incentives, but not requirements for police officers.

* He continues to throw the Little Rock School District under the bus (though if you read you'll see he sees it differently than I do). He justifies the high number of white officers who don't live in the city by saying: "There are many officers that don't have a lot of faith in the public school system in Little Rock." He says this is merely speaking the truth.

No doubt. But there is a difference between speaking the truth about the schools and merely reporting accurately what some officers THINK about the schools. I could guess some have formed opinions without actual experience. When the chief reinforces the notion of a failed system by explaining his cop's residency decisions without qualification, he suggests agreement with them. In the long run, that does harm to the schools and the city.

Unless, of course, he is right. But what about those officers who DO live in the city (mostly black officers). What about  those of us who chose to raise our kids in Little Rock and even sent them to Little Rock schools rather than move to Cabot? Are we chopped liver? Do we not speak truth? 

* Quote of the year on why cops might not want to live in Little Rock:
... maybe they feel like the crime [rate] is too high in Little Rock, and they don't want to live here. 
Feel better now?

Between cops' aversion to the city's schools and feelings that the entire city is unsafe, does it make you feel comfortable about how cops view the city? A place to protect and serve? Or a collection of dangerous people to guard? I'd like to dig deeper to find out why the majority-white Little Rock police force thinks the majority-minority city that employs them is unsafe, particularly since the mayor keeps talking about how much the crime rate has dropped.

Buckner says cops DO care about the city. He says they are, after all, "risking their lives" to work here.

Yes. Cops have a hard job with many risks. They make tough, split-second decisions, sometimes alone in dark and dangerous places with people who range from criminal to unstable. Even the trivial is hard. Ever known someone happy to get a speeding ticket? One officer's loss is too many, but it might be worth noting that police officer deaths have been rare in Little Rock (eight in more than 70 years), while the city records dozens of non-police killings each year.

Buckner also talks about assaults on police officers, the threat from semi-automatic weapons, the use of an explosive-equipped robot to end the standoff in Dallas, Black Lives Matter and the payment of $900,000 to settle a lawsuit over use of deadly force against an elderly black man who happened to be the father of police officers. No holds barred.

Credit him for opening the microphone. No rope-a-dope from this chief.

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