LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – As the capital city’s police department faces scrutiny surrounding transparency, top brass admit the department has failed in how it delivers information to the community.
During a news conference with Little Rock’s mayor on public safety, Little Rock Police Department Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley said the department should do better when it comes to being transparent.
Police have faced backlash ever since a 7-year-old girl was shot and killed on Fair Park. Rumors quickly spread about an active shooter at the zoo but information was limited and delayed by LRPD.
Interim Chief Crystal Young-Haskins did not take any questions during a news conference — 36 hours later after the shooting.
Bewley said Wednesday the top brass agree that how information is delivered to not only the media, but the public, must and will be changed.
“We need to do a better job and we can do a better job. The Little Rock Police Department in the past has done a better job,” Bewley said. “I can remember back to times when the relationship between the department and the media, the department and the public was in a better position.”
Email records reveal former Chief Keith Humphrey issued an order back in 2020 limiting who can release information to the media which took that power away from officers who had been in those positions.
Young-Haskins has the power to rescind the order but it’s too soon to know if she will because she was not at the mayor’s press conference.
In years past, LRPD would provide updates on homicides and shootings at scenes but that has not happened in awhile, until today, when LRPD held a briefing at police headquarters after a school bus was hit by gunfire.
Bewley told reporters Wednesday that protocols are being put in place to ensure the public and media are briefed at scenes that garner the public’s attention. Bewley said briefings will be conducted by members of the command staff or the uniformed public information office.
The assistant chief said after the public and media are briefed after a homicide or shooting, the department will release follow up details within three to five hours.
“We hear you, we know we can do better,” Bewley said.