Mayor praises outgoing police chief, says a replacement will be named by November

PUBLIC SAFETY BRIEFING: The mayor backed by the departing chief and others.

Mayor Frank Scott’s monthly public safety briefing included a farewell to Police Chief Keith Humphrey, who is leaving the job on May 20 at age 58.

Scott said Humphrey had achieved everything the mayor had expected of him in a bit more than three years in Little Rock — an increase in police community presence and community policing; accountability and transparency; a downward trend during a national crime wave, and taking the department to the “next level” on such issues as body-worn cameras.

Humphrey acknowledged crime is higher in Little Rock, but the “trend is downward,” apparently meaning it’s not increasing as dramatically as it has at some other times. He lauded city leadership (not, he said, just because the mayor was standing there.) he said he’d loved being in Little Rock and said he intended to continue to live here.

Neither the mayor nor chief talked of the deeply divided police department; the lawsuits over Humphrey’s leadership; Humphrey’s failure to wear a body camera on New Year’s Eve when he’d ordered all his leaders to wear them and opened fire on a parking lot dispute, and a string of other controversies during his tenure, not the least a lack of prompt and thorough information from the police about crimes large and small.

On other topics, the mayor encouraged people to report street lights that aren’t working. He said more lighting can decrease crime.

In response to a question, he said he hoped to have a new police chief in place before the November mayoral election. When Humphrey announced his retirement, the mayor said there’d be a national search. The mayor said Humphrey’s departure was unrelated to a department survey that reflected unhappiness in the ranks with the chief. He said Humphrey had instituted the department survey.

It was another heaping helping of Scott administration word salad, liberally dressed with bromides.

The rising acting chief, Crystal Young-Haskins, fielded a question and answered it in a manner in keeping with the mayor and Humphrey.

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