The Little Rock Police Department took action Tuesday to try and establish some good will in the community. Officers, in an event planned weeks ago, distributed 150 frozen turkeys and hams to drivers who lined up in front of the recently built 12th Street substation.
By chance, it came the day after outrage again erupted in Ferguson, Missouri as a grand jury there decided not to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed 18-year-old. Demonstrations also took place elsewhere in the country.
Chief Kenton Buckner spearheaded what he plans to make an annual event in Little Rock. In the midst of directing the giveaway he said, “You’d be surprised at the number of folks who are in need of this kind of help. We’re new in this community, as far as the 12th Street station, so we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to announce our footprint in the neighborhood.”
Nearly 40 officers from around the city assisted in the event which was sponsored by the department, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Black Police Officers Association.
Buckner gave the last turkey away just 30 minutes after the event began.
In the aftermath of renewed violence in Ferguson, Chief Buckner said he concerned about what he's seeing.
"Ferguson is on my mind. As a chief of police I have to be aware of national incidents. I'm very pleased that we're here doing this in Little Rock, but I know that tomorrow or tonight we could be Ferguson," Buckner said.
"We always want to make sure that we reach out to the community in a genuine way to show that we are sincere about trying to build trust, trying to heal some of those old wounds and make sure that we don't cause new scars in the future.'
After the announcement of the grand jury’s decision Monday night, the Little Rock Police Department put out a statement saying people unhappy with it can take part in peaceful demonstrations, but that destructive or unlawful behaviors would not be tolerated.