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The city of Little Rock Little Rock Police Department waged a losing battle to try and keep information about LRPD take-home vehicles and associated costs from the public.

First they violated the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act ("AFOIA") and proclaimed that the only way they would provide a response to a FOI request was by placing the the information sought on a CD or DVD at the cost of $3.00 per disc.  The AFOIA permits citizens to inspect and copy public documents or to request that  copies of the documents sought be provided in any form that the agency can readily convertible with the agencies existing software.

Matt Campbell, an attorney and publisher of Blue Hog Report, found through a FOI request that LRPD's cost per disc was actually 24 cents for a CD and 32 cent for a DVD revealing that the $3.00 fee was another violation of the AFOIA.

Once their sketchy scheme was  exposed. LRPD decided to make the disc's available at no charge. After all of tax dollars were used to buy them in the first place.

Then once their plan to make cash from FOI requests was thwarted,  they tried another failed scheme to hide information claiming the information was not releasable as it would identify undercover officers. Officers like the ones that go to public hearings and openly identify themselves as undercover officers.


But with our persistent prodding, we forced LRPD and the city to provide the public information.

Here's what we found.

There are currently 590 police officers in Little Rock. 363 are White; 168 are Black; 21 are Hispanic; 4 are Asian; 4 are Other. 366 of these officers choose to live somewhere other than Little Rock while 194 choose to live in the city that they protect and serve.  

We asked for further details about residency and race (i.e, how many white officers live in/out of LR, etc.) and Witherell promptly provided it. 

Of the 560 officers that LRPD employs, 366 (65%) choose not to live in Little Rock and be part of the community that pays their salary, while 194 (35%) do choose to live in Little Rock and be fully connected to the community that they serve.

Here is the same information in graphic form:

According to additional data we pried from LRPD, they have 220 vehicles of which there are 136 of them that are driven back and forth to work ("take-home vehicles") from residences outside the city limits of Little Rock. There are 78  that remain in Little Rock and  are driven back and forth each day to officer's residences in the city limits of  Little Rock.  7 automobiles are designated "pool vehicles" and remain at a particular police substation.

Here is the same information in graphic form:

We also obtained fuel cost for LRPD vehicles.

Missing from the fuel cost list are the figures from the 36 vehicles assigned to undercover officers and 4 other vehicles.  We have also requested that LRPD provide the cost for all LRPD vehicles and will post that information in an update when it is received.

The city also balked at responding to a question we posed regarding tax and ethical consideration about LRPD officers using these vehicles to commute to work and when working off-duty for extra income.
Current policy allows officers to take vehicles home no matter where they live; the new policy restricts take-home vehicles to officers who live within 25 miles of the city center, with some exceptions.

The new policy, outlined in a May 2017 memo from troubled City Manager Bruce Moore, will allow only officers who live within 25 miles of the geographic center of the city to drive their take-home vehicles home. If they live outside the 25-mile radius, officers assigned a take-home vehicle will be required to park the vehicle in a "secure location" overnight inside the radius, according to the memo.

Yet, more than half of the department's take-home vehicles would not be subject to the 25-mile requirement because of exceptions under the new policy, according to police documents.

Current department policy allows employees to drive assigned take-home vehicles to and from work, regardless of location. One such vehicle is assigned to LRPD Officer Edwin Mark Hollingsworth who lives in Malvern.


There will be a three-year period to phase in the new policy, according to the memo. But Moore said the phase-in period will not begin until the department has addressed an uptick in violent crime and officer vacancies within the Police Department.

"I think it's a good policy going forward, I just need to delay implementation," Moore said in an interview with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Ryan Tarinelli in an article published on May 15, 2017.

Take-home vehicles are an incentive, Moore said, and he decided to delay implementation after considering the morale of the department. He also said he did not want to lose long-term officers.
However, the police department's General Order 302, Section V, Take-Home Vehicle Assignment and Guidelines, Item D, Eligibility, No. 2 states:

Another sign that its past time for troubled City Manager Bruce Moore to be replaced.

Back in 2016 meeting, Little Rock Board of Director Ken Richardson said, "We end up subsidizing the public safety needs in these outlining communities as well because you end up having the police cars parked in their driveways."

Richardson said he asked for take-home cars for officers living in the city for years as an incentive and to promote safety throughout neighborhoods.

"During the meeting, Moore gave me a cost associated with that and he said it was five million dollars during the agenda meeting and then the next week during the board meeting that figure rolls to 7.5 million," Richardson said.

Moore said in to response to questioned asked about Richardson statement said, "There is an overall fleet cost that is budgeted per department, but it is not broken out by take-home cars. I am initiating a review with Chief Buckner regarding the take-home car assignments." 

That information was never made public if a review was even made.

Commuter cars are a sign of a deeper problem: That is, most Little Rock police officers don't want to live in the city they are paid to protect, particularly white officers.

Take-home cars would be a welcome sight in the city as a crime deterrent, but fewer than 80 are carried by officers to Little Rock homes. Changes in policy are needed now.

#CleanOutLRCityHall #TimeForChange #ByeByeBuckner

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