Little Rock Police Chief Talks Body Cameras, Protests And Other Issues

Apr 18, 2019

Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey addresses the media during a news conference.
Credit Sarah Kellogg - KUAR News / KUAR

The Little Rock Police Department is moving forward to acquire body cameras for its officers. During a news conference Thursday, Chief Keith Humphrey addressed this issue as well as other topics and what he said was his vision for the department. Humphrey said the department would soon start receiving bids for the cameras, although the department will take some time to make a decision.

"It’s very important for us to develop a policy first and also to establish a process in which our officers can test whatever body camera we decide to go with," Humphrey said. Humphrey also discussed the citizens review board, an issue Mayor Frank Scott Jr. ran on during his mayoral campaign. He said Scott would be talking to the Department of Justice regarding this policy. However, Humphrey said he did not want to use an existing model for the sake of having a review board.

"We want to develop the best review policy or advisory policy for the city of Little Rock We do not want to use a canned program. We want to make, once again, we want to make sure we have the best board or committee for the city of Little Rock," Humphrey said. Humphrey also said he intends to keep the promises he made while a finalist for the police chief position and that he wants the public to hold him accountable.

"We are going to be transparent. We are going to be respectful. We are going to continue to emphasize 21st century policing. That’s important. Transparency, transparency, transparency...that’s the key to a successful relationship between the community and our police department," Humphrey said. Additionally, Humphrey talked about the current investigation into the police-involved shooting of 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire. Humphrey outlined that there are currently two ongoing investigations into the incident, one administrative and one criminal. Humphrey stated he has no control over how long these investigations will take, but did say that the internal investigation is continuously being reviewed. He also said he does understand how the length of these investigations can be frustrating.

"I would ask the citizens to be patient because we want to be consistent. There’s a consistent process that we follow. And there’s a consistent process that the prosecuting attorney follows. We want to make sure that everyone receives due process," Humphrey said. While the prosecutor has not given the police department a timeline of when to expect a decision, Humphrey said the prosecutor's office did say they were still reviewing the case packet.

When addressing the protest that occurred on Tuesday, Humphrey said he was "honored" to go and speak to them and he respects and asks citizens to continue practicing their First Amendment rights. However, he doesn’t want to see protests evolve into civil unrest.

"We want all First Amendment protests to be peaceful. That’s the main thing that I want to emphasize here," Humphrey said. "We want any protests, all protests, all expressions of the First Amendment, we want them to be civil." When asked what the line is between civil disobedience and civil unrest, Humphrey cited a few indicators of civil unrest. 

"I think when it gets to the point of destruction of property and also the possibility of someone being injured, including citizens and officers. I think that that draws the line," Humphrey said.