LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock’s new police chief is nearly one month on the job and is sitting down for a one-on-one interview.
Chief Heath Helton, a Little Rock native, had support from the Fraternal Order of Police and the Black Police Officers Association.
“I’ve just tried to always be real. I try to be very respectful towards everybody, value the relationships that I have with people internally within the department and I think recognizing the value of everybody you come into contact with,” Helton said.
Helton confirms there are changes coming to the Little Rock Police Department after a recent staffing study.
Helton said he met with his command staff last Saturday to discuss it and how the department will move forward with implementing some of the recommendations.
“Some things are in motion,” Helton said. “There will be some reorganization and a lot of that is just simply to realign us so we’re more efficient.”
Helton, who said patrol and investigations are his top priorities, said more patrol officers will be assigned to the streets.
The new police chief said he plans to meet with the new colonel of Arkansas State Police and the chief of the North Little Rock Police Department to explore ways to mitigate crime between the two cities.
LRPD is down 86 officers, out of 594. Helton said recruiting efforts will pick up.
“We’ve been very blessed with the city board, our negotiations teams and the mayor’s approval to raise our salaries and get to where we’re the highest paid municipality in the state,” Helton said.
The department is preparing to hire two assistant chiefs. Of the department’s majors, six are white men, three are African American men and one is an African American woman.
“Diversity is a very important. It’s something that is a must. We have to be reflective of not only communities to serve, but we need to be reflective of that in our in our upper echelon, in our ranks,” Helton said.
Helton said the department must continuously encourage officers to take advantage of the promotional process.