LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The tension between employees and leadership at the Little Rock Police Department continues to grow, and now looks to be spilling into court.
Several police officers are suing the city of Little Rock claiming the city isn’t releasing public records related to an investigation into alleged misconduct by Police Chief Keith Humphrey.
The suit filed Friday claims, “this is an evaluation of Chief Keith Humphrey who is according to The City of Little Rock, the sole and final policymaker for the Little Rock Police Department other than for the issue of deadly force, may be hiding incompetence or worse from public inspection.”
According to attorney Robert Newcomb, who is representing the police officers, the officers were interviewed about their treatment at the Little Rock Police Department.
Newcomb believes the interviews should be released to his clients.
“The public has the right to know what the city’s own investigators found out,” he said.
The city had classified the report as a “performance or evaluation record,” which means it isn’t considered public under state law. Then on July 14, the Attorney General’s office sent the city an opinion disagreeing with that classification.
In the opinion, the Attorney General’s office told the city to “review and properly classify each record” then release the pages considered public under state law.
According to the new lawsuit, the city hasn’t followed through on that order.
“One of the things that I’m asking for in the court is for the court to at least look at the file and see if it’s being properly classified and not just take the city’s word for it,” Newcomb said.
Questions about Humphrey’s behavior on the job were first exposed by Fox 16 Investigates last year. That reporting uncovered several HR investigations involving the Chief, none of which have been made public.
The lack of transparency around the investigation is what in part prompted City Board of Directors member Lances Hines to propose a “No Confidence” vote in the chief. That measure was presented in December 2020 but never made it to a vote.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. Is the only one who can hire and fire the Chief. In the past he hasn’t talked about what’s going on, calling it a personnel matter.
“We’re talking about the police chief, we’re talking about there’s only one person that has any supervision over him and that’s the mayor,” Newcomb added.
Requests for comment from the mayor’s office have not been returned.