Exclusive: LRPD Chief Buckner Talks Racial Tensions, Ups and Downs in Final Interview

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner’s tenure is coming to an end at the end of the week.

“It feels real. It feels like I’m ready to turn the page,” says Chief Buckner.

Chief Buckner, in his last interview with Mitch McCoy, held nothing back.

“The most frustrating was the racial tension both inside and outside the police agency,” he says.

The Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) has been gripped with several lawsuits including a suit filed by four African-American officers claiming discrimination.

The officers allege they were passed up on promotions and pay raises.

Buckner says racial tension made his job difficult at times.

“I understand that this is a part of our community, a part of the fabric of who we are both past and present, and that for me was very, very frustrating for me at times because it’s not the way I would prefer to view everything through that lens,” says Chief Buckner.

Buckner says as time goes on things inside LRPD will improve as long as there are people inside the agency who want them to.

“I think some of the things that have occurred in the past kind of need to be left in the past but not forgotten. I think sometimes our younger generation that we often look past, I think they would do a better job managing that. They don’t appear to see things through that racial lens like through my generation or people before me,” says Chief Buckner.

Buckner has appeared in several forums, some of which came during a spike in crime in Little Rock in 2017, which includes a mass shooting at a nightclub that left 25 people shot.

He says he’s always tried to be straight-forward.

“I think I’ve learned that there is a time and place to deliver some of those uncomfortable messages,” says Chief Buckner.

Under Buckner’s command, LRPD, which once had more than 80 vacancies, is at full staff and the department’s training program is now accredited.

“Just learning how to be a Chief is probably the biggest thing that’ll I’ll remember,” says Chief Buckner.

Buckner calls the job tough no matter what city you are in.

“In no shade to Little Rock but if you can survive as Chief of Police in Little Rock, you can be successful anywhere in this country,” says Chief Buckner.

Buckner’s last day is Friday where he will be the next Chief of Police in Syracuse, New York.

Buckner says the next Chief needs to have the experience necessary for the job, which includes policing in 2018.

Buckner says he believes a couple of his Assistant Chiefs would be able to compete with any candidate in the country for the job.

City leaders announced Tuesday LRPD’s Assistant Chiefs will run the department until a new chief is named, which could take approximately 90 days.

Watch the full interview below.

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