Activists Tell New LRPD Chief to Bring Back 'Zero Tolerance'

LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Community activists met Wednesday with the new Little Rock Police Chief to talk about violence plaguing the city.

There have been 29 murders so far this year in Little Rock. Last year, there were 32 the entire year.

During the meeting, Chief Kenton Buckner heard a pitch for policy changes to address the problem. Activists brought the concerns of those affected by violent crime.

"She was a people person, a family person," said Pam Howard. For this mother the pain is still real 18 months later.

"She had big dreams of being a fashion designer and an artist," Howard said of her daughter, Jasmine Young, who was gunned down when someone fired into an SUV she was sitting in at a Little Rock gas station.

"It's been real hard," Howard said.

On behalf of victims like Jasmine, Rev. Bennie Johnson spoke Wednesday with new Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner.

"We discussed a lot of things that's going on in this community," Johnson said.

Johnson, the leader of Arkansas Stop the Violence, says he asked Buckner to bring back "zero tolerance" policies of the 1990s, making it easier for police to search people and vehicles.

"It was very effective," Johnson said. "It got guns from violent felons."

Johnson also called for a commitment to stop loitering along Little Rock's 12th Street corridor that he says leads to violence.

"We don't think the city is taking it serious," Johnson said.

Johnson supported another of the finalists vying for the police chief job, and admits being disappointed when Buckner was selected.

"My whole attitude changed after we met with [Buckner] today," he said. "I'm very impressed."

Pam Howard says she supports Johnson pushing the new chief for new policies, hoping to prevent more mothers from living her nightmare.

"Every day that I wake up it's painful," she said.

Chief Buckner was not available for comment Wednesday, but the department says he will be doing interviews on Friday.

Check back for updates.

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