Working 4 You: 2021 investigation year in review

Working4You

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – This past year KARK never stopped ‘Working 4 You’.

It’s been a year of holding the powerful accountable and protecting our community.

2021 started with a historic snowstorm, followed by bitter cold, leaving thousands in Pine Bluff with water pressure so low that Jefferson Regional had to stop taking new patients at one point.

Back then, Liberty Utilities said crews had a hard time finding leaks because of bitter cold and excessive snow.

‘Working 4 You’ Investigates uncovered the company’s emergency plan had not been updated in several years and included outdated details.

The attorney general launched an investigation that ended just last month. The state found Liberty’s past actions and response to the winter storm were inadequate and in breach of its duty to provide safe, adequate and reliable service to customers.

KARK continues to check in with the Cross family after Heather nearly died after being hit head-on by a Shannon Hills police officer in 2019.

The family got $25,000 from the city but they say medical bills exceed a million dollars. Arkansas is one of three states with a strict sovereign immunity law, preventing the Cross family from suing the state. One state senator hopes to reverse that.

One ‘Working 4 You’ investigation sparked global attention after the team uncovered state troopers performed at least 144 PIT maneuvers last year, including one where a pregnant woman says she was trying to pull over when a trooper pitted her car.

State police later agreed to change its use of force policy as an ‘objective standard”.

Finally, Pope County District Court Judge Don Bourne, who has been the center of our ‘Denied’ series.

State numbers were uncovered that show Bourne only appointed the public defender 48 times in nine years. Which was a number sharply different in other counties with a similar population.

Judge Bourne said that he appointed the public defender in three cases the week of October 4, and went on to say, “If the defendant tells me that he is employed, I do not normally appoint the public defender.”

The office charged with investigating judges announced the day after KARK’s story that it had launched a probe into Judge Bourne.

KARK will continue ‘Working 4 You’ in 2022.

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