The Little Rock Board of Directors decided to postpone taking a vote regarding the city’s 2021 budget for two weeks, as well as a resolution that “express[ed] concern” regarding the continued employment of the city’s police chief.
Board members ultimately tabled consideration of the budget Tuesday night, after not accruing the needed eight votes to push the ordinance to a third reading, with a vote of 7-3.
It was a conclusion that could have happened over an hour earlier after Ward Five City Director Lance Hines made a motion to table his own resolution that would have expressed a "lack of confidence" in the leadership of Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey, and would have adjourned the rest of the meeting.
Humphrey, who began his tenure as chief in April of 2019, has been in the center of multiple lawsuits with several members of the department, including two assistant chiefs suing him, while Humphrey in September filed his own federal suit against staff, multiple officers and the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police.
Before Hines’ motion was recognized, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. called the proposed resolution “an inappropriate action.”
"The city board is a policy making board. This is an executive administration purview that deals with personnel matters. Hence the reason why our city attorney has already shared and admonished Director Hines of the reason why he should not be moving forward because it implicates the members of the board," Scott said.
Ultimately board members rejected Hines’ initial motion to adjourn earlier and heard the comments on the resolution from community members, all of which were against the resolution and in support of Humphrey.
Sgt. Rodney Lewis, president of the Little Rock Black Police Officers Association, spoke against the resolution and praised Chief Humphrey, saying his willingness to engage with those who have been disenfranchised, has caused people who want to maintain the status quo to attack him.
"It’s time for the antics to stop. It’s time to stop the disenfranchisement and character assassination. We should stand for what’s right and put down those unsupported, vindictive accusations and behaviors that have no merit," Lewis said.
Ward 6 Director Doris Wright called the resolution “ill-advised” and said it’s a personnel issue as opposed to a policy issue and never should have come before the board. Wright also had other issues with the resolution concerning its contents.
"I’m also troubled by the overtones that it sends out. And I don’t play the race card, but when I have principal that I work with all the time. He says sometimes you just have to call a thing, a thing, and that’s what this looks like," Wright told her colleagues.
She also said that Humphrey needs to be able to lead the police department and asked Hines to withdraw the resolution, which Hines did not do.
When it came time to consider the resolution, Director Dr. Dean Kumpuris proposed tabling it for two weeks. The board voted 6-4 to table the motion, and soon after, voted to table the budget as well.
The board will reconvene on Tuesday, December 29 to address the resolution on Humphrey and the budget