LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas’ largest police agency announced changes to how it will provide updates to the public after calls by some city directors to be more transparent.

The Little Rock Police Department made the announcement by email on Friday to news organizations.

“Going forward, a uniformed officer will be responding to homicide scenes and other major incidents to provide facts (at that time) of incidents to media members,” LRPD Sergeant Eric Barnes announced.

The police department has hardly provided on-scene briefings to reporters after the agency hired a media specialist.

“Mr. Mark Edwards will still be your point of contact for media requests; however, a uniformed officer will be responding to these types of scenes,” Barnes wrote.

Two days after city directors publicly spoke about transparency concerns, LRPD Assistant Chief Wayne Bewley recognized the department has failed to provide timely and transparent information.

LRPD Asst. Chief Wayne Bewley

“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 at the time. “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.”

Days later, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. appointed Bewley to be the department’s interim chief after the former interim chief announced she was leaving to take a job out-of-state.

When reached by phone Friday, Barnes said Bewley wanted to see immediate changes to how the department provides information to the public.

“Chief Bewley wanted to open the lines of communication. We think this will provide a consistent response,” Barnes said.

Bewley, who has been with LRPD since 1986, is only in his fifth day as interim chief.

For more than a month, there has been pressure by some city directors for the police to release more information, while still protecting cases, after seven-year-old Chloe Alexander was killed on Fair Park. Rumors quickly spread about an active shooter at the Zoo.

LRPD alerted the public about a homicide investigation with a tweet at 12:43 p.m. that Saturday, but released very few details until the following Monday afternoon.

Little Rock City Director Kathy Webb, who publicly called on changes to LRPD’s practices, said Friday she is glad to see the department implementing these changes.

“We’ve said the public deserves to be informed and information can be provided without compromising investigations,” Webb said. “This definitley is a step in the right direction.”

Earlier this month, Little Rock City Director Joan Adcock said she wanted officers to provide briefings at every homicide because when the department holds back, fear and rumors spread.

“The person they have just shuts off everything and people are not used to that. People are used to being answered,” Adcock said at the time.

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.

Barnes confirmed Friday that uniformed officers, already assigned to the department’s Public Affairs Unit, will be providing the community and media updates from major incidents, including homicides.

“We heard people want media briefings, we think the community will also like it,” Barnes said. “We want to find a good balance of releasing information.”

The changes go into effect immediately.