HASKELL, Ark. – Monday’s Haskell City Council meeting took an abrupt turn after a father accused the city’s police chief of not protecting his teenage daughter.
Quinn Best – a father and law enforcement official himself – confronted city leaders after he says his 17-year-old daughter was targeted by a Haskell police officer. Best called out the chief and mayor during the public comments section, claiming his daughter had been followed and harassed by the officer – even receiving social media messages and requests from the man accused.
“He decided to reach out to her on social media after following her around after a traffic stop,” Best explained to City Council. “That rests on your shoulders, and Mayor, it rests on your shoulders, too.”
According to Best, his teen daughter was pulled over during a traffic stop, with the accused officer letting her off with a warning.
The officer then proceeded to follow the teen around, even sending her messages on social media. Best says he reached out to both the Chief and Mayor but feels not enough was done.
A video of the meeting has captured the attention of thousands, with the confrontation leading to calls for the officer’s firing and a reopening of the department’s history of targeting teens.
Nicole Horvath’s daughter is the same age as Best’s and goes to school with the teen. Horvath was at Monday’s Council meeting and says this type of worrisome behavior isn’t new.
“They’re not doing what they’re supposed to do as an elected official,” Horvath said when asked if city leaders were taking this seriously. “This isn’t Haskell’s first time or second time or even third time.”
Council members at the meeting were shown screenshots of social media posts where teen girls shared private messages and pictures of officers at parties. Theresa Marley no longer lives in Haskell, but remembers similar things happening to her daughter in 2008 -under a different chief , but the same department.
“She went to a lot of parties and a lot of the officers would party with the girls,” Marley remembered. “There just always seems to be an issue with the police officers there in Haskell.”
Officers with the Haskell Police Department have gotten in trouble for harassment before. In 2011, Ashlea Bennett sued the city in federal court after she says an officer chased her around her workplace demanding she expose herself to him.
She was at the City Council meeting Monday to show her support for young girls living in Haskell, and released a statement:
“At 17 years old I was being harassed by a Haskell police officer. We went to the Mayor; we went to the Chief. We didn’t hear anything for a week. We were finally told he was on leave, which lead to him being let go. But that didn’t give me the justice that I needed…We ended up in federal court, 12 jurors decided that the person that harassed me was guilty. It was that day that finally someone believed in me and now it is my turn to support our youth and believe in them.”Ashlea Bennet
In 2015, officer Kyle Vaughn was arrested for sexual assault and child pornography charges. He was later sentenced to five years in prison.
Current Chief Mike Watson was at the City Council Meeting on Monday, saying “disciplinary action was taken against this officer,” and adding that he encouraged anyone to come to him with their concerns.
A representative for Mayor Roy Carman’s office said they were not going to comment on the matter, since it’s a personnel issue.
As of Monday, the officer in question was still on duty at the Haskell Police Department. It’s not clear what that “disciplinary action” taken was.
Best says he hopes to call another City Council Meeting before school starts next month and would like to see the officer fired for his behavior.