Black police officers blast Chief Buckner, ask board for investigation UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Black police officers blast Chief Buckner, ask board for investigation UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 7:47 AM

CHIEF KENTON BUCKNER: Black officers have criticism.
  • CHIEF KENTON BUCKNER: Black officers have criticism.

While Police Chief Kenton Buckner heard many encouraging words Wednesday night from the Little Rock City Board (none offered what could be called direct criticism), there's a decidedly different tone among black police officers, who've asked for an investigation of the chief.

The Little Rock Black Police Officers Association yesterday sent a letter to the City Board outlining its unhappiness with Buckner on matters ranging from alleged favoritism in enforcing rules as they pertain to Assistant Chief Alice Fulk to personnel policies that have discriminated against black officers to personal criticisms of Buckner. The letter was signed by Melvin Vester, president of the LRBPOA. It said previous efforts to resolve past disputes had been unsuccessful.

We are asking the City Board of Directors to conduct an independent investigation into the discrimination, inequities, and disparaging treatment of minority officers and supervisors, under the command of Chief Kenton Buckner. We further request that Chief Buckner be disciplined according to the severity of such violations of misconduct, up to and including termination if your investigation finds him or his command staff in violation of policy and procedures of the Little Rock Police Department and/or violations of the Little Rock Civil Service Commission’s Rules and Regulations.
UPDATE: I sought comment from Buckner. His response:

Max, the letter in question involves personnel issues. As a practice, LRPD does not publicly discuss personnel matters. Thank you

One passage of the letter:

CONDUCT UNBECOMING A “CHIEF”

(Subordinates would be disciplined for the same conduct)

1) Lost Duty Weapon – Negligence

2) Community Forums – Disrespect to Community Members/Elected Officials
Or/ Refusal to Participate

• Wendell Griffen
• Joyce Elliot
• Fred Love
• Joyce Raynor
• Pamela Means
• B.J. Wyrick

3) Support of LRSD School Tax in Uniform – L.R.P.D. Violation of Rules & Regulations

4) At Fault Vehicle Accidents X 3 – G.O. 302 regarding operation of city vehicles.

5) Failed to Appear in Court – Court Ordered Subpoena (Griffen)

6) High Crime Rate – Preferential services and treatment rendered to predominately white neighborhoods

About 30 percent of Little Rock's more than 500 officers are black. But, as I've noted before, more than half the black officers live in the city while only about 20 percent of white officers do. And a significant number of the white officers are provided free city cars to commute to and from work, sometimes distances more than an hour each way.

At a time when debate is robust about violent crime disproportionately affecting majority black neighborhoods (about 40 percent of city population is black) a racially identifiable tone to internal issues comes at an uncomfortable time for city leaders.  Buckner, of course, is black himself as is City Manager Bruce Moore, who hired Buckner.

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