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Little Rock proposes resident board to review police conduct

July 22, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Little Rock city leaders are slated to vote Tuesday on a proposal to form Arkansas’ first resident board that would review police actions and recommend investigations.

The ordinance, proposed by Mayor Frank Scott Jr. last week, would create a five-member board to review citizen complaints about police interactions related to corruption, discrimination and use of force.

According to the proposed ordinance, the board would be tasked with reviewing investigations for accuracy, completeness, impartiality, objectiveness and thoroughness. It would process complaints against Little Rock Police Department members, policies or practices. It would also make recommendations to the city Board of Directors on law enforcement policies and practices relating to case review.

The National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement breaks oversight agencies into four categories: ongoing monitoring and auditing authorities; review systems; administrative prosecutorial units; and systemic audits of high-risk police programs.

City Attorney Tom Carpenter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette he intended for the board to be an auditing body to “look at the situation and say, ‘OK, did we consider everything?’”

The board would deliver an annual written report to the city and would have its own bylaws. It also would conduct public sessions on law enforcement policies and practices within its jurisdiction, allowing residents to make comments. In its meetings, it would review complaints or hear discussion of investigations from Little Rock police staff. The board would be able to obtain additional information or the assistance of expert witnesses.

Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey created a Citizens Public Safety Oversight Committee in Norman, Oklahoma, before he began serving in Arkansas this year. The committee in Norman monitors community policing, reviews expenditures and conducts reviews. The group also issues annual reports to the City Council and the public, and makes public safety recommendations.

If approved, the Little Rock board wouldn’t replace the city’s existing Civil Service Commission, which comprises seven residents who oversee personnel disputes, promotions and policy violations involving fire and police departments

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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