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Little Rock police face transparency concerns following violent crimes

Little Rock is currently on track for another record year in homicides with some concerned about the amount of information released by the police department.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Little Rock has already had 37 homicides so far in 2022, which is 10 more than this time last year.

While the city continues to look for ways to curb crime, some directors aren't seeing the progress. Alongside that are concerns about the level of transparency at the police department.

Little Rock Vice Mayor Lance Hines is not in favor of putting money into crime prevention programs to stop the upwards trend in violence. Instead, he thinks the city should take a different approach.

"We've got to have more tactical presence on the streets of Little Rock, more officers on patrol," said Hines.

He has been a critic of Mayor Frank Scott Jr's administration for years. This topic is no different as Hines believes there's a lack of transparency from the police department.

"I can tell you what I think the root problem is with our public information office in LRPD. It's not LRPD's fault. The LRPD and the interim chief and the chief that retired all answer to the mayor," said Hines.

It's been an ongoing issue, but one that was brought up again after the murder of 7-year-old Chloe Alexander when there were questions unanswered about the investigation.

In response, Mayor Frank Scott Jr.'s office sent the following statement:

The police department has a responsibility to protect the integrity of ongoing investigations, and Mayor Scott supports LRPD in its decisions as to what information it releases and when it does so. The Freedom of Information Act specifically exempts from disclosure the records of ongoing investigations, and that exemption is necessary to allow investigators to effectively pursue justice and protect the rights of both victims and suspects. In an effort to ensure transparency while not compromising ongoing investigations, Mayor Scott has discussed with LRPD ways it can use social media to keep the public updated.

We asked LRPD about their transparency protocols and what are the best ways people can ask questions when they have concerns. We did not get answers to these questions, but a spokesperson did send the following statement: 

In the event of a homicide in Little Rock, a preliminary investigation begins and LRPD utilizes its social media platforms to keep the public updated. The information is the most accurate information that can shared at that time without compromising an ongoing investigation.

Little Rock Director Ken Richardson said the way LRPD releases information is effective.

"[The] Police department to their credit, they have been giving us information after they've concluded or after they've been involved in an intensive investigation," said Richardson.

   

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