The City of Little Rock has announced the members of the independent review committee that will investigate the practices and procedures of the Little Rock Police Department.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced the creation of the committee back in May as a response in part, to multiple lawsuits against the department’s chief Keith Humphrey as well as the city by LRPD officers and employees.
Speaking during a news conference on Monday that discussed several initiatives concerning law enforcement, Scott said many factors were considered when choosing committee members.
"You have notable and reputable and above reproach lawyers in the fields of civil rights, in the field of employment law, in the field of human resources as well as understanding of sociology," Scott said. "Many times, it’s more than just the law. It’s understanding implicit bias. It’s understanding de-escalation training and the reason why we need more de-escalation training and implicit biases [training] not only from a law enforcement perspective, but from a community perspective."
The members are:
- Lt. Bennie F. Bowers – Retired from Michigan State Police
- Furonda Brasfield – Attorney, The Law Office of Furonda Brasfield, PLLC
- Arkie Byrd – Partner, Mays, Byrd & Associates, P.A.
- Paula Casey – Former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District
- John DiPippa – Dean Emeritus at UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
- Tamika Edwards – Executive Director at Philander Smith College’s Social Justice Institute
- Michelle M. Kaemmerling – Partner, Wright, Lindsey & Jennings, LLP
- Phillip Kaplan - Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C.
- Dr. Terry Trevino-Richard – Professor Emeritus at UA Little Rock, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Additionally, the Little Rock Board of Directors is preparing to vote on a contract Tuesday that would outfit officers of the Little Rock Police Department with body-worn cameras. The proposed contract with the company WatchGuard Video Inc. would cost the city just under $760,000.
Scott also gave an update on the city’s Citizen Review Board, which the Board of Directors voted to establish in July of 2019. According to Scott, board members have received the required training, but then were delayed from having their first meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Though he did not disclose a date, Scott said the board’s first hearing will concern the police incident concerning Arkansas Rep. Vivian Flowers, (D-Pine Bluff), and former House candidate Ryan Davis.
As far as updates from within the LRPD, Chief Humphrey announced a decision from the department to modify its current use-of-force policy.
"I believe as the chief of police and listening to the community and just based on best practices in 21st century, we need to have a clear cut wording that provides our officers…that they need to intervene when they see something that’s not right," Humphrey said. "Excessive force, other misconduct and so we want to make that very clear that that’s going to be a vital part of our policies and procedures."
Humphrey also said the LRPD will create a "constructive, creative conversation team" consisting of city residents and law enforcement that will have "open and critical discussions" concerning matters impacting the city.
The city is lifting its 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew effective Monday after implementing it on June 1. The announcement to lift comes after a weekend of demonstrations against police brutality, brought on by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police. The protests in Little Rock began on May 30 and continued each night through June 7.
Humphrey called the protests this past weekend "amazingly peaceful" and that the only arrests made Sunday concerned traffic warrants.
"Just to see the peaceful [protests] and the passion from our residents and what they believe and what they’re standing for, know that they’re standing along in solidarity with the other residents of other cities throughout the nation," Humphrey said.
Although Arkansas' current emergency order is still in effect, Scott said Gov. Asa Hutchinson has agreed to reduce the presence of state police in Little Rock. Additionally, Scott says the Arkansas National Guard will be transition back to its regular duties.