Chief updates LR City Board on shootings | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Chief updates LR City Board on shootings

Posted By on Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 8:27 PM

Police Chief Kenton Buckner spoke to the Little Rock City Board about last weekend's mass shooting at a downtown nightclub but he provided little new Information.

He said he was constrained by an ongoing investigation. He said the police continued to encounter witnesses reluctant to cooperate.

He said the police would continue to evaluate whether "gaps" existed in their response.

Buckner mentioned arrests in a drive-by that wounded a 7-year-old and other arrests including some where family members had turned in suspects.

He emphasized cooperation with other agencies but didn't mention what Gov. Asa Hutchinson might announce Thursday. He said he hoped to transfer some police duties in traffic enforcement to civilian employees.

Board questions/comments:

* Erma Hendrix: "you're doing a helluva job"

* Gene Fortson: He praised life-saving first aid by police newly equipped with combat-style materials and acknowledged the difficulties police faced in chaos of mass shooting. Buckner agreed. He said winning a conviction ultimately relied on methodical police work. Fortson wondered if the city needed a new look at bars open until 2 a.m. The city earlier set security regulations for those with permits to be open until 5 a.m. Buckner said yes.

* Joan Adcock: She wants the city to consider retirees for new civilian jobs. She objected to putting young people in jobs dealing with older people who "might be easy upset" by minor incidents.

* BJ Wyrick: She asked about a vice detail visit to the club that apparently didn't turn up underage customers. She also mentioned the club's record of rules violations. She questioned too the failure to stop guns in the club and off-duty officers leaving the premises while the club remained open. But she said the chief was "on target" and moving the right direction.  There was discussion about city's  inability to enforce state ABC rules. The chief said open carry is legal in the state and private premises may allow concealed weapons. There were "a lot" of guns in the club. City Attorney Carpenter agreed that open carry is legal, based on the opinion of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and it is hard to prevent concealed weapons if private businesses don't object.

* Ken Richardson: He asked about community cooperation efforts. He said they were extensive.  "I appreciate the job you're doing."

UPDATE: Richardson wrote Thursday to add some elaboration:

I asked the chief what are they doing community wise to build to build those kind of trusting relationships in which two mothers turned their sons in to the police? I thanked him for the example that countered the insulting stereotypes about parents in the inner city! I' mentioned numerous times that is also insulting to blame lack of cooperation with unsolved crimes. The "patrol and control" mindset of policing in the inner city becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. One minute you're treated as a suspect and the next minute you're a long lost friend that needs to help us. That's simplistic at its best and idiotic at its worst.

Lance Hines: He raised questions about off-duty officers. Do general orders provide for action by them when things might "seem to be getting out of hand." Buckner said they did. He also said the gang affiliations had "gone asymmetric." People aren't talking, "they're shooting," he said.

Should the city get State Police assistance. Buckner said he'd shy away from "direct contact" on the street, but investigative  and other cooperation could be useful. Hines also proposed spending money, even with a tax increase, to do more electronic monitoring of parolees, a large number of whom live in the Little Rock area.

Hines also complimented the police. "You have my full support."

* Doris Wright: She repeated complaints about "private event centers," which function as clubs without ABC permits. She also complained about a lack of reaction to her call for community policing, in which patrol officers spend time talking to people on the street.

* Dean Kumpuris: Another question on Responsibilities of off-duty officers in parking lot the night if the shooting. He wondered if officers should have said, "There's a problem here. Somebody come look." He asked what the board could do to help police, including in winning more witness communication. Might it be a confidential reward fund? "If there's something we can do tell us." He said the city needed a task force.

The mayor then chimed in to defend police work and success in arrests. The month of June went without a homicide, he noted.

* Kathy Webb: She asked where violent crime units were focused. He said the central city, the 12th Street corridor.

Stodola then said other cities were experiencing upticks in crime and he said information hadn't reached the public about police efforts that were underway before the club shooting.

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