The attendance swelled to standing-room only at Philander Smith College in Little Rock on Thursday for the city’s second forum with a finalist for the police chief position.
Hayward Finks, a 30-year veteran of LRPD gave a 15-minute presentation and then took questions from the community for nearly 90 minutes.
“I think it deserves our attention,” Robert Nelson says.
Nelson is a 49-year resident of Little Rock who went to the first forum, this forum and plans to attend the final two as well.
He is one of many hoping for change.
Finks started at LRPD as a cadet in 1988 and has since held several other positions, working his way up to his current role of assistant chief, a title he has held since 2012.
“Everything in my career has prepared me for this moment.,” Finks said in an interview with us before the forum.
About halfway through the question-and-answer portion of the forum, a group of protestors interrupted the session with signs and chants calling for LRPD to release the video of last week’s shooting that left a man dead and a LRPD officer relived of duty.
Finks acknowledged the obvious friction during our interview before the event.
“There’s stress between the community and the police department right now,” Finks says.
During the forum, Finks made it clear he’s against 12-hour shifts for police officers and described his top priority for the city he grew up in.
“Right now the utmost importance is stopping the violence,” Finks says.
“Violent crime in our city, we have to bring that under control.”
It’s a priority that people like Robert Nelson can get on board with.
“It’s too much activity going on that’s not acceptable,” Nelson says.
The city of Little Rock is expected to hold two forums next week with two more finalists who are also in the running to be Little Rock’s next top cop.
On Monday, the first forum was held with retired LAPD commander, Todd Chamberlain.