Little Rock police review board: It must have teeth | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Little Rock police review board: It must have teeth

Posted By on Thu, Mar 21, 2019 at 8:33 AM

click to enlarge A HOT SEAT: The new mayor is suddenly in the middle of one of the city's most difficult issues. - KARK
  • KARK
  • A HOT SEAT: The new mayor is suddenly in the middle of one of the city's most difficult issues.
The Democrat-Gazette today reported further today on the potential shape of a citizens police review board, which Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said Tuesday he wanted to put on a fast track.

Key from my perspective: Would such a body have teeth — power to take concrete action about police misconduct? Or would it just be a kibitzing body? City Director Ken Richardson said as much:

Ward 2 City Director Ken Richardson said he believed a citizen review board could be one way to help a fractured relationship between some residents and police, but he said that if established, it should not just be symbolic. Setting up a panel without any influence would be like "putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound" and possibly make things worse, he said.

"It's a good idea, but it has to have some teeth," Richardson said. "A lot of times, we put these things in place just to say we have these things in place."
This isn't simple. City governments are creatures of the state. Many changes in structure require state law changes as well. Could such a group have subpoena power, for example? There are many models for oversight around the country. For example. Odds of any model being viewed warmly by the Fraternal Order of Police seem long.

The new mayor, thanks to the recent fatal shooting of a black man by a white cop with a checkered record, finds himself in a stew of the city's most difficult issues — crime, race and police attitudes toward the community that pays them. Good luck to him.

No draft ordinance is yet available. 

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