At the Little Rock Board of Director's meeting Tuesday night, LRPD Chief Kenton Buckner revealed the reason crime has been rampant in the city and why Little Rock has been ranked as the most dangerous city of its size by multiple organization for the past few years; It was because Little Rock police officers were afraid to protect citizens and stop crime because they lacked riot gear.
Bucker stated “...you cannot expect a police officer to protect life and property if he cannot protect himself. … I understand this is uncomfortable for all of us as Americans because we ask why are we militarizing our police … [but] this is the new America. This is the new normal — whether we like it or not.”
LRPD is now fully equipped and militarized with the addition of the riot gear.
|LRPD practices for the first chance to use their newly acquired riot gear.|
Although it cannot be confirmed, it is believed that LRPD also obtained a drone.
In the meeting, Buckner also said social media is the main cause of civil unrest. Buckner is no stranger to social media himself in that he frequently makes posts on the LRPD Facebook page about where he is eating or going to church.
Several directors questioned the immediate need and priorities of other devices, with some of the most revealing questions coming from one of the directors that has had frequent contact with LRPD officers, Director Ken Richardson.
Sgt. Rodney Lewis, who has been with LRPD for 25 years, was almost in tears as he was pleading for board to approve the riot gear, "If you send us out there to do the work, no matter how many officers get injured or even some might get killed, which one of y’all are going to go to my house and tell my wife or my kids ‘I failed them’?” Lewis asked. Lewis is one of 44 officers who are members of a special response unit that is already outfitted with riot gear. Lewis admitted that in all his 25 years with the department, he's never seen a riot.
|LRPD Sgt. Rodney Lewis fights back tears speaking before the LR Board|
Buckner is also no stranger to "riots" as he was an assistant chief with the Louisville, KY police department when they were involved in a much publicized attack on peaceful Occupy Louisville protesters and when rowdy Louisville fans rioted after they won the NCAA national championship in 2013. Buckner came under fire for comments he made that seemed to encourage the rioters, "We are on the cusp of doing something great (winning a championship) - celebrate". Shortly after making those comments, Bucker was looking for a new job and landed here in Little Rock.