LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The City of Little Rock has officially sworn in its new police chief.

Little Rock Police Department Chief Heath Helton was sworn in Thursday morning, becoming the city’s 39th police chief.

In a move away from tradition, Helton’s badge was not pinned on by the mayor, but instead by his wife, North Little Rock Police Sergeant Carmen Helton as their family stood by.

Helton had been appointed as interim chief in December 2022 and assistant chief since March 2022. The local Fraternal Order of Police and the Black Police Officers Association supported his nomination by Mayor Frank Scott Jr., announced in December.

The interim position had been traded two times after the previous chief, Keith Humphrey, retired in May.

Helton began his career as an LRPD patrolman in 1996 and was one of the 43 applicants for the police chief position.

In a speech following Scott’s announcement of his selection, Helton said he would emphasize community policing and was committed to data-driven policing. At the time he cited the city’s recently implemented real-time crime center as a “game changer,” along with the city’s reporting app.

Helton also said his goal would be to make the agency more open, accessible and responsive to community concerns.

It is my hope that someday support for the department will be uniformly strong across neighborhoods and from every sector of society, but I recognize we are not there yet. This police department and all of its communities have a history, and that history has not always been positive. We will work to learn from that history, and we will not be held hostage by it. We will work hard to earn your trust.”

Little Rock Police Chief Heath Helton