Kerry interviewed Little Rock Chief of Police Kenton Buckner who has said that the business sector and public safety must work together to promote security and protection of people and property in Little Rock.
The rampant crime spree Little Rock has seen over the past few months has no doubt kept Kenton Buckner quite busy and why we are grateful to have him stop in to talk with us today. But the Little Rock Police Department Chief of Police has certainly seen a lot during his law enforcement career that spans more than two decades. Buckner became the 35th chief of the LRPD back in 2014 after serving 21 years with the Louisville Kentucky Metro Police Department.
His broad range of experience was obtained as he rose through the ranks from Sergeant to Lieutenant to Major – during his time in Louisville. He became Assistant Chief in 2011 and has overseen the Support Bureau, which contains Major Crimes, Narcotics/Intelligence and Special Operations. Chief Buckner’s works with administrative and fiscal matters have also been invaluable assets that have also become useful in his current role, which was previously held by Stuart Thomas, who retired in June 2014.
He has been known to ask the public to hold him accountable during hard times. In the wake of recent criminal activities – which include more than 40 homicides this year – Buckner has actively sought input from the community on ways to try to quell the violence. Before leaving the Louisville PD, Buckner was a candidate for the chief position in Newport News, Virginia.
Buckner has a bachelor’s degree in police administration and a master’s in safety security and emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University. He is also a graduate of the Southern Police Institute’s Administrative Officer’s Course and the NOBLE Chief Executive Officer Mentoring Program from Cedarville Collage.
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[0:00:03.2] TB: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Be sure to stay tuned till the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:17.1] KM: Thank you, Tim. Like Tim said, I’m Kerry McCoy and it’s time for me to get up in your business. For the next hour my guest, Little Rock, Arkansas’s police chief, Mr. Kenton Buckner and I will be getting up in the business of law enforcement.
It was easy to make a list of topics that Chief Bucker could talk about. There are so many, and we won’t get to all of them. Some of them are — Let’ see what he thinks about this. Crime in Little Rock, Arkansas and, really, America got in control; parenting our youth, that’s my favorite; crime prevention; homelessness; overcrowding in jails; challenges of our courts and convictions; lack of witness participation in solving crimes; medical marijuana and what it means to our city; profiling and black lives matter, PTSD and our law enforcement officers; the media’s mentality if it bleeds it leads; what to do in case you’re assaulted; what business can do to help and how to get started in a law enforcement career. Of course, we’ll not have time for all of these topics, so we’ll let the chief and our listeners guide the conversation.
We hope through our storytelling of how we maneuvered the path of leadership that you will learn something, want to get involved, or be inspired to take action in your own life. For me, it began over 40 years ago when I founded Arkansas Flag & Banner. During the last four decades, Arkansas Flag & Banner has grown and morphed from door-to-door sales, to telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales, and now relies heavily on the internet. Each change in sales strategy required a chance in company thinking and procedures. My confidence, leadership knowledge and my company grew. My initial $400 investment now produces nearly four million in annual sales.
Each week on this show you’ll hear candid conversations between me and my guest about real world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that I hope you’ll find interesting. Starting and running a business or organization is like so many things. It takes persistence, perseverance and patience. I worked part-time jobs for nine years before Arkansas Flag & Banner grew enough to support just me. It’s now grown so much that to operate efficiently we require 10 departments and 25 people to maintain them. Thus, reminding us all again that small businesses are not only the fuel of our economic engine, but also impact and empower people’s lives.
Before we start, I want to introduce you to the people at the table. We have my technician, Tim, who’ll be running the board and taking calls. Say hello, Tim.
[0:02:52.7] TB: Hello, Tim. It’s good to be back.
[0:02:54.6] KM: It’s nice to have you back. John did a good job while you were gone though. My guest today is Police Chief Kenton Buckner who, on June 30th, 2014, became the 35th of Chief of Police for the City of Little Rock, Arkansas. Anybody who ever thought they could outsmart a cop needs to think again. Chief Buckner has a bachelor’s degree in police administration and a master’s in safety security and emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University.
He is a graduate of the National Executive Institute, sponsored by the FBI; the Administrative Officers Course, sponsored by the Southern Police Institute, Chief Executor Officer Mentoring Program at Cedarville College; and the Senior Executive Course in State and Local Government, sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School.
It was 1993 in Louisville, Kentucky that Bucker began his career as a police officer rising to sergeant, lieutenant, major, and in 2011 he became their assistant chief of police where he oversaw the support bureau responsible for major crimes, narcotics intelligence and special operations. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Arkansas Police Chiefs Association, National Organization of Black Enforcement Executives and the Police Executive Research Forum. He has also been involved with Big Brother and Big Sisters, a great organization.
Under his jurisdiction, our Little Rock Law Enforcement Agency was awarded the highly coveted Gold Standard Assessment in Public Safety. Chief, how do you say this? C-A-L-E-A?
[0:04:29.8] KB: CALEA.
[0:04:31.3] KM: CALEA. This very year, our own Chief Buckner was appointed to serve as its commissioner. It is a thrill and honor to welcome to the table Little Rock’s 35th Chief of Police and our overachieving Kenton Buckner.
[0:04:50.2] KB: Thank you for having me.
[0:04:51.7] KM: You are huge. How tall are you?
[0:04:53.7] KB: 6’4”.
[0:04:54.9] KM: Yeah, our listeners need to know you’re 6’4”, and I’m not going to ask you how much you weight, but you are a force to be reckoned with. Your aura is huge. Your confidence is huge. You’re a no nonsense kind of guy. I know that everybody — I’ve been really excited about having this interview with you, because I see you on TV all the time and I’ve never met you. Every time I told people, and I talked about this week, that I was going to be interviewing you. They always want to talk about crime in Little Rock, and we’re going to talk about that.
I’m a woman. I want to know what it’s like, the human interest part, of what it’s like for your family, for your kids to be a police officer and to never really be off the job. Can you speak to the personal sacrifices?
[0:05:39.2] KB: What my family accepted a long ago that my chosen profession of being in law enforcement was something that I wanted to do. I knew that at a very young age. Grew up with a single parent, my sister and my mother, but very little bit that I knew about my biological father. One of the things was is that he was an MP in the military and got out of the military and then was a police officer in Louisiana. That kind of became kind of the genesis of my inspiration of wanting to be a cop.
I’ve known that for a very, very long time. Although friends more so than family would ask, “Why would you want to do that? It’s not a very popular profession in the African-American community.” But everyone that’s in my inner circle has always supported that.
[0:06:26.8] KM: It seems like one of the hardest jobs there is. Everybody needs you, but nobody wants you.
[0:06:35.0] KB: Our job is tough. It grows tougher by the day. It’s even more so difficult because there are so many issues that impact our community that people want to dump at the doorstep of police. When in fact we’re asked to deal with the symptoms of many of these broken systems that I’m not performed to the level of most of our citizens’ expectations. That’s the frustrating part, but we certainly understand that we have a significant responsibility in public safety, but we just want to make sure that everyone understands that if you expect the police to the lawn, you probably going to be deeply disappointed.
[0:07:11.9] KM: I heard you say — This is the first time I really fell in love with your persona, was that you’re on TV and a young mother standing in her driveway, holding her two-year-old son at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon and a young 14 or 15-year-old man came up and shot her for the $20 in her purse and you said — I’ll never forget this. I was walking by the TV and you said, “Police cannot be the parents. Where was this young man’s — Why was he not in school? Why did he have a gun? Where were his parents?” I just thought that was so brave of you to say that.
[0:07:55.2] KB: Well, folks that have seen me speak publicly — I’m proponent of uncomfortable conversations. I believe that they serve as barriers between status quo and progress. I think that we all have to individually and collectively look in the mirror to see what our contributions and responsibilities are for the problems that we face. I think that far too seldom, families, starting with the households, are not doing their jobs and we can place a lot of blame and a lot of other places as well, government, school systems, the church, and they all have a collective responsibility as well. I think it starts in the four corners of your house, and when we have that system broken, very few of those kids are going to be able to reach their full potential.
[0:08:44.2] KM: How can you fix that?
[0:08:46.6] KB: I can’t, and I’ve been very candid about the fact that I can’t fix it. I think that I can make contributions to that as a chief of police with a police department to try to have constructive contact with young people to try to change the trajectory of their lives, but that starts, again, with looking in the mirror. I believe that we certainly need to help those who are need because there are certainly people who don’t have as much as much as others and we have a responsibility as a society to help those individuals. First, those individuals have to take responsibility for their actions. Again, we can point a lot of fingers in a lot of different places, but some of those fingers need to be back to the individual who made bad decisions.
[0:09:29.3] KM: Are you ever off the clock?
[0:09:30.5] KB: Never.
[0:09:32.1] KM: When you were late — I want to tell all the listeners that we started the show a little late, because you were late. I thought —
[0:09:38.2] KB: I was in here before 2:00.
[0:09:39.3] KM: Oh, you were?
[0:09:39.7] KB: I was in here right at about 1:59 or so.
[0:09:44.1] KM: Okay. 1:59. I thought he’s never off the clock. Who knows what’s happened in your life? Your phone could ring at any time to do anything.
[0:09:53.4] KB: It rings too much, but I tell people that I don’t complain about the fruit of my labor. I knew what I was signing up for when I said I want to be the chief of police of Little Rock.
[0:10:05.9] KM: You had offers elsewhere.
[0:10:08.6] KB: I was in three different processes. I made the finals for all three process. I was a finalist in Newport News, and at the time that I received the job in Little Rock, I was a finalist. I was about to be named in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
[0:10:22.9] KM: I’m glad you decided to come to Little Rock. Everybody that I told you’re coming on the show asked me to ask you about crime in Little Rock. Surprisingly enough most people think that we are in the top 10% of the highest places for crime and, including me, I Googled it. We’re not even in the top 30.
[0:10:41.8] KB: The comparisons that Little Rock is most notably are when you see midsized cities, which is the finest cities with 200,000 citizens or less. For those categories, we say in that top 10 of cities and sometimes in the top 5 —
[0:11:02.4] KM: What do you mean?
[0:11:03.5] KB: Comparable cities. For example, other cities that have that size of the community. Rockford, Illinois is one of our comparable cities. For midsized cities, our crime is very high.
[0:11:19.0] KM: You mean percentage-wise.
[0:11:20.6] KB: Percentage-wise, in comparison to other cities. If you’re looking at us in comparison to Chicago or Detroit or some of these other cities, there’s no comparison because there’s a vast difference between the size of the population. If you go with comparable cities, we’re usually in the thick of things and have been there for decades.
I think that the issue with that is that socio-economical cocktail of poverty, low academic achievement, single parent home, absentee father, mental illness, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, strained relationships with police and black and brown communities. All of those things are kind of at the root of many of these issues that we play out in our community. While we certainly get a lot of recognition for our violent crime as we should, you look at the victims that are attached to that, 80% of the crime in our city is actually property crime.
For the past 3 years we’ve had a total, that there were sub 17,000 total reported offenses combining both property and violent crime, which is good for us, but we’ve certainly seen that over the past few years our violent crime continues to go up like other urban communities across the country.
Usually, when you hear people use the word urban community, it’s a very politically correct way of saying large dense populations of black and brown people, and we are a majority-minority city, 42% African-American and nearly 7% Hispanic make us majority black and brown for our city. When you have that, when you have those kind of percentages, many of them are going to be living in the conditions that I mentioned earlier, which in many cities results in high crime.
That’s why you see me respectfully pushback on some of the things that people want the police to try to do, because there are so many things that are in the crime numbers that I have no resources to be able to address.
[0:13:15.6] KM: I had no idea. Our percentages, you keep all these numbers in your head really well. One thing you didn’t mention specifically is because of our what you call black-brown relationships. That’s typically lower income, which is maybe why we have more property crime.
[0:13:36.8] KB: Property crime is a crime of opportunity. We don’t do a good job as a community of protecting ourselves against that. For example, you can go on any parking lot, any neighborhood and find vehicles unlocked, valuables in plain view, and those create opportunities particularly in West Little Rock where a significant percentage of our property crimes occurs because there’s a soft targets there.
People have higher qualities of life, so they become a little more laxed in their security measures that they take for their personal property which makes them open to being a victim of a property crime.
Violent crime in our city, for the most part, and there are certainly extreme examples when you think about Acen King and Ramiya Reed, the two and three-year-old that were killed during shootouts amongst individual gang members. Those catch our attention, but most of the violent crime in our city are preexisting relationships with individuals who are in conflict or some type of crime that was occurring, like a drug deal that goes wrong or a robbery of someone that goes wrong.
Just to say that a normal citizen is going to be a victim of violent crime in our city is just not true. It’s usually some of the decisions that you’re making and the people that you’re hanging out with and the lifestyle that they have that will raise your risk of being the victim of that type of crime.
[0:14:57.7] KM: Unless it’s a random act.
[0:14:58.6] KB: Those cases occur. When you look at Ms. Shirley Jackson, the young lady who owned her own daycare who happened to be across the street from my house where there was a shootout and a bullet went through her home and actually killed her in a time when she had a house full of babies in her home that she’s running an in-house daycare. I’m certainly not saying that they’re not some cases to where true innocent people are killed, but for the most part many of these individuals are in engaged in criminal activity when they die.
[0:15:25.8] KM: They’re just bystanders. They weren’t premeditated to go kill them.
[0:15:28.9] KB: This is correct.
[0:15:29.9] KM: The killing of Anne Jansen years and years ago. Was it Anne Jansen? Not Anne —
[0:15:34.7] KB: The news reporter?
[0:15:34.8] KM: Yeah. What was her name?
[0:15:36.0] KB: I can’t remember her name, but I’m well aware of the story. It happened before I got here.
[0:15:39.7] KM: That’s an exception.
[0:15:40.4] KB: Those kinds of cases are exceptions, but they do happen in larger communities. Of course, everyone knows that we’re the largest city in the state. We have challenges to some of our neighbors that we have to deal with.
[0:15:52.0] KM: How many policemen do you have on?
[0:15:53.3] KB: My authorized strength is 593. We just hired 27 individuals that started this week on Monday, so whatever that 80 is, minus the — We had 80 vacancies before that, so 27 minus that, then we’ll have another class coming up in November of about 40 to 45 individuals. I’m hoping to get it under 40 before the end of the year for our vacancies.
[0:16:17.4] KM: What do you think is your biggest challenge?
[0:16:19.4] KB: I’ll ask you a question.
[0:16:20.8] KM: All right.
[0:16:21.9] KB: If your son, daughter, niece and nephew, 21, 23 years of age were to come home and say to you, “I’m thinking about joining the Little Rock Police Department. I can tell you that a significant percentage of people will attempt to talk that individual out of that, because of the dangers in the job. That’s my struggle.
This is a very challenging profession, this is a dangerous profession. Some will people will certainly support their loved one’s ambition to do that, but many people frown upon taking on that kind of responsibility. It’s not for everyone, which is why it’s so difficult for us to find those individuals who are willing to put their lives on the line for the safety of others.
[0:17:00.8] KM: That’s exactly what General Wesley Clark said a few weeks ago when he was on. He said that a lot of good people don’t sign up for the military even though he thinks it’s a wonderful, honorable profession, because you go in and you tell your parents and they try to talk you out of it because of their fear of something happening to you, and they don’t want to lose their child.
[0:17:18.5] KB: It’s like a rehab center. Everyone thinks that a rehab center is a great thing to help those individuals who are addicted as long as it’s not down the street from my home.
[0:17:28.0] KM: That’s right. I feel that way.
[0:17:29.6] KB: Yeah.
[0:17:31.5] KM: I’m sorry to say that, but I’m probably one of those. Here’s a list of the stuff that we’re talking about. What do you think about gun control? Do you want everybody to have a gun?
[0:17:40.0] KB: I think that everyone that’s legally able to have a gun should have the right to protect themselves and bear arms. I think that there are reasonable ways to do that. I’m not a fan of open carry. I think it unnecessarily causes alarm to the public. I think concealed carry is a responsible way for a legal gun owner to carry a weapon.
It concerns me when I see some of the things in venues that people are allowed to take a gun, and we certainly know that there are about 300 million guns on the street of the United States and most of the responsible gun owners are not contributing to the problem. It’s only the criminals who are using them illegally.
I think we have enough laws on the books to be able to go after individuals who are illegally possessing weapons, but I do think that some states have gotten a little bit too far to the right with this open carry thing. I’m not a big fan of that.
[0:18:33.4] KM: A lot of policemen come in to Arkansas Flag & Banner and I’ve asked some of them, they said, “You know, if they’ve got guys with guns there, that are the good guys.” I can’t tell they’re good guys if they’re carrying a gun, and they’ve got their gun out and the bad guys has got his gun out and the good guy has got his gun out. How do I know which one is the good one and which one is the bad one?
[0:18:51.0] KB: I’ve talked about this several different places. When our state, when we were kind of checking the box of every location that you could take a weapon legally in our state, one of the venues that that was on that initial list was a sporting venue, particularly our university football games. The SCC found out about that and they weighed in and said that we don’t think this is a good idea.
Then common sense stepped in and said, “You know what? We enjoy being in the SCC and maybe this is not a good idea.” Well, I would like that same common sense to be used for a school, for a bar, because I don’t think you need a gun to go in and have a couple of spirits with your friends and family to do that. Those kinds of things are some of the things that are frustrating to chiefs all across the country.
[0:19:41.6] KM: Speaking of bars with guns, what about the shootout on 6th Street a month ago?
[0:19:46.8] KB: That was an anomaly that occurred in our community. There are several things that went wrong with that location. We were very fortunate that no one died as a result of the action taken by the individuals that were in there. Our police officers did a great job of responding to that. There were four, five tourniquets that were applied before MEMS even arrived on the scene. There’re a couple of chest seals that were applied to individuals there.
We know that police saves some lives there along with our medical response folks, but there are some things that the city is looking at from an opportunity for improvement standpoint to be able to try to close some of the gaps that resulted in that event happening.
[0:20:24.1] KM: But that’s a perfect example of not taking guns to bars when you’re drinking.
[0:20:28.1] KB: It’s an excellent example.
[0:20:29.5] KM: Mm-hmm. Crime prevention; you talked about property crime. You talked about keeping your valuables put away.
[0:20:39.5] KB: We have a program, it’s called a vehicle report car and we use it in areas that have high percentages of property crime and we will go and have our law enforcement officers out on flip in these areas and they will look into people’s cars to see if they’re locked, to see if their valuable stuff’s in place. Then there’s a letter grade assigned to the car that we will leave on the window. If there are no valuables inside and the car is locked, you’ll receive an A. If there are valuables in plain site or your vehicle is unlocked, you will receive an F.
[0:21:09.8] KM: I got an F the other day.
[0:21:11.3] KB: About 40% of the people that we give that vehicle report card to actually failed.
[0:21:16.9] KM: I got an F the other day.
[0:21:18.7] KB: You got one.
[0:21:18.8] KM: I got one. We went out to go to church and my granddaughter said, “Look! You got a ticket your window.” I pulled the ticket off and it graded me and she was like —
[0:21:25.6] KB: Did it say why you got that F?
[0:21:27.0] KM: I left my doors unlocked. I would have never thought I left my doors unlocked.
[0:21:32.0] KB: It’s a very friendly professional way of saying, “Help us help you.”
[0:21:35.7] KM: I have been very conscientious ever since and my granddaughter is helping me.
[0:21:39.8] KB: Mm-hmm.
[0:21:40.6] KM: You’ve trained one child.
[0:21:41.9] KB: We got that from Arlington, Texas. There’s an agency that shared that idea with us.
[0:21:46.3] KM: That was really fun. She really enjoyed it actually, because she goes to school and she gets grades and she’s like, “You got an F?”
Homelessness. Let’s talk about homelessness.
[0:21:54.8] KB: Homelessness. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. A couple of weeks ago there were some actions that we took in the 1100th block of Markham with the King of the Throne location where homeless individuals are fed. Many people in our community felt as if we were targeting those individuals unnecessarily or illegally because of their homeless status. Nothing can be further from the truth. We were there as a result of a number of criminal complaints that we received from individuals they were committing there including drugs, prostitution, assaults, nudity, literally individuals walking around nude in the area, having sex over there while people are trying to run a business in their location. When we responded there we also put up cameras to be able to keep an eye and verify some of these things that we were getting even though we had a pretty good documentation to show that.
Homelessness and criminal activity should not be discussed in the same vein because they’re two separate conversations. Homelessness, I think that every intelligent person understands and respects the fact that our homeless people need assistance particularly from a shelter standpoint, food, mental help and then also with their addictions and everyone I think can appreciate that we need to do a better job of addressing that.
We cannot hold these individuals accountable when they’re out committing crimes, because someone running a business should not have to come and open their business in the morning and find someone urinating in your doorway. That’s just not a good way to run a business. It’s not safe for our city and it makes our citizens feel very uncomfortable.
[0:23:30.4] KM: What should citizens do?
[0:23:32.4] KB: I think that citizen should — To do what we can, to make sure that we’re providing services to these individuals. I think that we need to do a better job of making sure that the homeless know where these services are and being able to connect them with them. You can’t force people to do that, but I also think that when they’re doing things that are against the law the citizens need to also understand that we have a duty and responsibility to ensure that these individuals are held accountable for that.
[0:23:57.7] KM: We have homeless people down by Arkansas Flag & Banner and some of them are mentally ill and some of them are not. We’ve had a few of them, Bill. Look, Tim is nodding. Yes everybody knows who Bill is. Bill’s got some mental health issues and we’ve had to call the police to come and pick him up, and they are wonderful. They’re the ones who told us his name. Actually, the police were like, “Oh, it’s Bill! Oh! Hey, Bill,” and they took him somewhere.
Then we have another one, Ray. He’s wonderful. We can’t give him enough books. He is an avid reader. We just constantly giving him books to read.
[0:24:33.2] KB: Nice.
[0:24:36.7] KM: That’s nice to hear. Crowding in jails, and then we’re going to take a break.
[0:24:40.4] KB: Can’t arrest our way out of the situations that we’re in. We would like to be able to take those individuals who summer from mental illness, those individuals who suffer from addictions. Make sure that they’re held accountable if they’ve committed crimes, but I think that you have to treat the source of their issues. I think that in itself is one of the reasons why we have overcrowding in jail, because I would like for those jail spaces to be for violent offenders and a significant misdemeanor crimes.
[0:25:08.7] KM: A lot of people don’t realize that a lot of people that are in jail today used to be in mental health facilities 50, 60 years ago and that the mental health facilities were found to be wanting their care that they were giving to people, so they closed them, which seemed like a good idea because they weren’t really up-to-code. What it did was it threw a lot of mentally ill people into jails with violent criminals, and I’m not sure how to ever get that back.
[0:25:36.1] KB: It’s a monster of a problem. Barry Hyde in our city, in the county has come up with an initiative. I think he has an institution with 16 beds that allows individuals to go there and receive I think like a 48, 72-hour observation period to try to get those individuals back on their medications to get them back in line and we hope that that will help.
[0:25:56.3] KM: If you’re homeless and you go to Barry’s, you can get your medication and you can take that with you out on to the streets.
[0:26:02.0] KB: That is my understanding. Yes. Rather than taking those individuals to jail for minor offenses.
[0:26:07.0] KM: Or locking them up in a rehab or somewhere. They can actually be given medication to keep them functioning even if they are on the streets.
[0:26:14.3] KB: To get them back on track. Yes.
[0:26:15.8] KM: That’s good to know. I didn’t know that. Chief Buckner, I can’t imagine being a police officer. It is intoxicatingly powerful, and the car, and the gun, and all the toys and the gadgets. There was a time I thought my husband was going to become a police officer and I did exactly what you said in the last break, and I said, “Well, I will not marry you.” I just know I could not do that, but I think every little boy wants to be a police officer in some little small way. Most men want to be police officers and play with all that stuff. It is very intoxicating. How do you manage the power and the stressfulness of it?
[0:26:58.5] KB: From my chair, I think that you have to humble yourself. I think you should this as an opportunity to serve and the power also comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. Decisions that you make — In our agency, there’s roughly 750 employees and 200,000 citizens who are counting on you to do the right thing. There’s also a significant spotlight that you’re under that everything that you do is going to be second guessed or judged by others who have not walked in your shoes.
You have to understand that power, use it for good and make sure at the end of your role that you will be able to look your maker in the eye and say that you did the best of your abilities and that you tried to do it the right way.
[0:27:45.1] KM: It’s a higher power thing.
[0:27:46.3] KB: For me, it is. I feel like that I’m doing what I was designed to do.
[0:27:50.1] KM: I feel like you could hardly be a police officer if you didn’t believe in a higher power.
[0:27:55.4] KB: I think you have to. I think it certainly helps for any occupation, but I think that law enforcement is one that you certainly have to be anchored in some sort of — I don’t know what I would call it, but you just described as some sort of higher being.
[0:28:09.9] KM: It is one of the hardest jobs and one of the most least appreciated jobs it seems like there is.
[0:28:16.2] KB: I think that the silent majority of people appreciate and respect police. The problem is is they’re silent. 10% of the population I think will always be adversarial with police. The other 10% will blindly support the police. I think the 80% of our public is able to look at fact from fiction and bluff, make an intelligent objective observation of what has occurred. They’ll expect you to be held accountable if you were wrong and they’ll support you when you are right even when it doesn’t look right.
[0:28:47.0] KM: Even the social isolation of being a police officer would be troubling to me. I have a police officer that I know and his name is Scottie and he’s in my phone as Scottie the Cop. One day I asked him to party up in Dreamland Ballroom and he said, “Oh, Kerry. We have a saying down at the police station, “Policemen at a party is like a turd in a punchbowl.” Have you heard that?
[0:29:14.1] KB: I have. I’m an outgoing introvert. I can be the life of the party, but I prefer a desert island. I know what Scottie means and that for the stress that I have to manage on a daily basis when I’m on my time, I kind of want to be left alone.
[0:29:30.0] KM: Well, when he said I was like, “Oh! You’re right. Yeah, don’t come to the party.”
[0:29:33.8] KB: Yeah.
[0:29:35.1] KM: That seemed isolating to me. Let’s talk about the witness participation. How are you going to do your job if you don’t get witnesses?
[0:29:43.3] KB: We have to have that. One of the things that we struggle with, particularly in witnesses in violent crimes situations and even the victims in some of those. For most of our shootings, which we have a low clearance rate for our shootings because —
[0:29:56.1] KM: What does that mean?
[0:29:57.5] KB: The victims of a shooting, if someone has used a firm arm and shot you, the vast majority, I would say 90-plus-percent of them, when you go and talk to the victim of the shooting, they want nothing to do with the police and they want nothing to do to help you with the investigation to find their shooter. Now, we do a lot better job with our homicide cases, I think, because you have a death there. It’s frustrating for us, but there’s also another side of that coin that I understand the concern and fear that some people have of some sort of retaliation against them, which is why we have a number of different anonymous avenues that you can provide information to still be a participant in public safety.
[0:30:34.8] KM: What are those? Phone call?
[0:30:36.4] KB: Phone calls, or you can sense a text message.
[0:30:38.5] KM: How do you find those phone numbers?
[0:30:39.5] KB: You can get — Just go online to Little Rock Police Facebook. You can at @lrpolice on our Twitter. You can call and leave a message at the major crimes divisions. You can call the headquarters and leave information with leaving your name. You can call into 911 dispatch. We would prefer that you call the non-emergency number for that.
[0:30:59.5] KM: What’s that?
[0:30:59.9] KB: There are so many different avenues that you have that you can actually call and give information. The non-emergency number is —
[0:31:08.0] KM: Oh, it’s not 911.
[0:31:08.9] KB: No, it’s not. That’s for emergency.
[0:31:09.5] KM: Oh. I’m sorry. You don’t have to. He’s on his phone looking it up. You don’t have everything memorized.
[0:31:14.0] KB: It’s 371-4829 and 371-4423.
[0:31:20.0] KM: Those are the numbers that you can call —
[0:31:22.4] KB: For non-emergency calls for a service or a police or to provide information.
[0:31:27.3] KM: Anybody listening out there, we’ll put those numbers up on our website. If you’ve been feeling guilty because you haven’t confessed what you know to somebody, here’s an anonymous way for you to do that and to help our police officers who — Gosh! What would we do without y’all?
Medical marijuana, what’s it mean to our city?
[0:31:51.4] KB: Well, I was against the medical marijuana. I certainly understand and can appreciate that there are some individuals who suffer from certain medical conditions to where that is very comforting for them, and I think that there’s a way to allow the medical profession to be able to provide that same comfort with that drug through that avenue. I’m not a fan of legalizing marijuana. I’ve been in Little Rock for a little over — Approaching three and a half years and I’ve discovered 99 problems, none of which that will be solved marijuana.
[0:32:26.1] KM: But it would solve overcrowding in jails maybe.
[0:32:28.5] KB: I don’t think, because I see marijuana is a gateway drug and I believe that it will lead to other drugs that are more harsh and many of those individuals who are engaged in criminal activity are trying to feed a drug habit.
[0:32:44.8] KM: I see what you’re saying. You think it will would just lead to more drug problems and —
[0:32:49.6] KB: I think so.
[0:32:52.2] KM: Heroine is the new drug of choice, right?
[0:32:51.6] KB: Heroine, for the most part, what we’re seeing now which what’s changed the demographics. Heroine now has taken up our former pill users. Law enforcement did a great job of working with the medical profession to closing the gaps on the pill epidemic. As a result of doing that, people still wanted that opiate. Heroine is very cheap and very accessible and it’s also resulted in some nontraditional individuals coming up on the crime map and particularly suburban white females who come from middleclass of upper echelon kind of backgrounds that are now hooked on heroine.
[0:33:35.4] KM: Really?
[0:33:35.7] KB: Yes.
[0:33:36.6] KM: Where does heroine come from? It’s grown in United States.
[0:33:40.0] KB: A lot of it comes from Mexico with many of our other drug issues, but you can just buy, get heroine anywhere. If you’re looking for something, you can find it.
[0:33:48.9] KM: Someone tell me that heroine came from Afghanistan. Is that true? No.
[0:33:52.0] KB: I’m sure that they have that they’re sure of and I know that some of the Middle Eastern countries certainly have issues with that as well.
[0:33:58.5] KM: Profiling is part of police work. You have classes on profiling, but black lives matter is another issue. Can you speak to that?
[0:34:10.8] KB: I look at black lives matter the same way that I want the people to look at the police department. I think that black lives matter has certainly a place in our society. There are not a lot of police to probably agree with me on that because of some of the rhetoric and negative perceptions that have been put out as a result of those two organizations being law enforcement and black lives matters. I don’t think that everyone in block lives matters is a bad person nor do I believe that everyone in black lives matter is antipolice. I think that there are some extreme individuals who are criminal-minded or who want to highjack that calls for their personal agendas, but I think that some of the conversations that black lives matter are racing are legitimate concerns, legitimate things that law enforcement needs to look in the mirror to see if we’re doing, continue to do these things to harm our black and brown communities. I think that when we do that, you gain the respect of intelligent people if you’re willing to admit that we have caused harms, we have been wrong in some situations.
I don’t want to broad-brush black lives matter, nor do I want people broad-brushing an entire police department for the actions of a single officer.
[0:35:17.9] KM: Do you feel like the media’s mentality, if it bleeds it leads, is feeding to some of these animosity between the two groups?
[0:35:27.7] KB: I’ve been in this business for 25 years, approaching 25 years and I understand that media is a business. If it bleeds it leads is based upon sound business principles. They will tell you that if they post a positive story of us walking with Girl Scouts, handing out cookies, you may get 10 responses to that on Facebook. If you show a shooting or where police have been engaged in an officer-involved misconduct or something, you may get 10,000 hits on that.
If you’re in the business of media, you’re going to go where you’re getting your customers. I understand that, so my job is to try to make sure that we, as an agency, are not doing things to put ourselves in a negative situation to where the media has to report on those kinds of things. I also think that they have a responsibility to try to be balanced in how they go about delivering the news.
[0:36:17.9] KM: You’re the most level-headed person I think I’ve ever met in my life.
[0:36:20.6] KB: It comes with a lot of bumps and bruises that I’ve had and I certainly have made mistakes and continue to make them to this day. I think the longer that you sit in the kinds of seats that I have, the broader that your views of things become, because it’s usually a right and a wrong, then truth is usually somewhere in the middle.
[0:36:38.7] KM: I believe the wiser you get, the broader your views get.
[0:36:42.3] KB: Mm-hmm.
[0:36:42.5] KM: Have you ever been shot?
[0:36:43.7] KB: No, I have not.
[0:36:46.2] KM: Wow! Look. He’s knocking on wood over here. I think that’s tweetable; the wiser you get, the broader your view gets. That’s a Kenton Buckner tweetable moment, I think. What do you in the case if you’re assaulted?
[0:37:00.9] KB: If police assault —
[0:37:02.6] KM: No. I’m sorry. If I’m assaulted. I’m a women and I’m about to get — Because most of the crime is against women, and I’m about to get abducted and thrown into a car. What should I do?
[0:37:12.3] KB: First thing I would want to do is make as much noise as you possibly can to catch the attention of potential witnesses. If they are successful in abducting you, at least they can get some kind of description of the assailant or the vehicle that they were in. You want to try to do as many things as you can to disrupt that individual, gauging of the eyes and the groin area, whatever you try to do to delay them actually picking you up. Make sure that when you go places, let people know where you’re going. If you’re by yourself in certain areas, use good common sense about doing things.
Again, I believe overall our city is safe, but there are some places that I would say you need to use more precaution particularly at night or something that is not well-lit or an area that you’re not familiar with. Those kinds of things don’t happen very often in our community, but they’re certainly possible.
[0:38:04.4] KM: You should never get in the car at all cost. Is that right? Because you create two crime scenes.
[0:38:08.5] KB: You do. Another one is the whole thing about your drinks in a social environment. Don’t leave your drinks with individuals or set them down, because people will take advantage of that and be able to put something in your drink, which is a very common thing particularly for the younger folks, when you talk about college crowd of a lot of date rape type of things.
[0:38:28.9] KM: Really?
[0:38:29.3] KB: Yes.
[0:38:31.6] KM: You don’t ever want to get in the car with somebody.
[0:38:33.7] KB: Right.
[0:38:34.2] KM: Another police office told me one time that you forget to breathe.
[0:38:39.0] KB: Mm-hmm.
[0:38:39.6] KM: And that when you forget to breathe, that the first thing you should think of or that they’re trained is to think of your breath and to be sure and breathe because if you get shortness of breath, you’ll get tunnel vision.
[0:38:51.3] KB: It affects your thinking. It does.
[0:38:53.0] KM: If you get accosted, you should breathe.
[0:38:57.1] KB: Mm-hmm. Cellphones are a good thing to have with you. There’s a lot of technology out there that if someone goes missing, provided that phone still with that individual or if you can put out some sort of beacon or something with that, then it would stand a higher percentage chance of being able to locate you.
[0:39:13.7] KM: Because once you get in the car —
[0:39:16.5] KB: Your survival percentages go significantly down.
[0:39:22.0] KM: That’s a terrible thing. I got a text that says, “How effective are the body cams that police are required to wear?”
[0:39:30.3] KB: Obviously, Little Rock PD is not a body camera wearing agency. We have certainly researched a number of those and taken a look to see what that would look like in our agency. They are effective. I think that more often than not they show that police have done what they are professionally supposed to do. They’ve always illuminated some bad cops. I think that overall it’s an effective tool. I think that overall it’s good for both community and the police department to have that, and I think that most agencies that have it are happy with the success that they’ve had with it.
[0:40:05.7] KM: That’s body cams. I think about all the cameras that are around on the street and stuff.
[0:40:10.8] KB: And phones — Yes.
[0:40:12.2] KM: No. Not the phones. The ones are up on the buildings that are looking. Does that help?
[0:40:17.2] KB: It does help. One of the most recent examples that we could use the Boston Marathon. If you remember, it was the camera footage from many of the businesses in the downtown that captured these individuals to show them the different locations that they were. That’s an example of where the communities network help law enforcement doing a very critical time doing an investigation.
[0:40:38.1] KM: There is such a balance between your personal privacy and law enforcement or your safety. It’s personal privacy versus safety all the time.
[0:40:47.4] KB: We give up a little personal safety for public safety, and I think that most people will agree with that provided that is done in a legal way of doing so. There are probably some ACLU folks who probably don’t think we should have as many cameras as we do.
[0:41:02.5] KM: There absolutely are.
[0:41:03.9] KB: I think that there’s a reasonable and a balanced way of providing that.
[0:41:08.9] KM: Do you come from a military background?
[0:41:10.6] KB: I do not.
[0:41:11.9] KM: Do most of the police officers come from a military background?
[0:41:13.4] KB: I’d say maybe 10% to 15% of folks probably have some kind of military background.
[0:41:19.4] KM: That’s all?
[0:41:20.4] KB: Mm-hmm.
[0:41:21.0] KM: If a young man wants to become a policeman and go into law enforcement, what should they do at a young age?
[0:41:28.8] KB: Stay out of trouble. Get connected with a police officer. Make good decisions in your youthful years as it relates to drugs, the type of people that you hang out with. There’s a very extensive background that’s done on anyone that’s in the application process for the police department. Go to college. I would recommend that you get a college degree before coming to the police department. I think it prepares you to be better suited to have a productive police career and also prepare you for post-law enforcement career so that you have more options available to you. Find a police officer that you respect and kind of use them as a mentor and kind of a buddy system to talk to about some of the questions that you have about the profession.
[0:42:13.6] KM: Is that what you did?
[0:42:14.8] KB: I did. I knew some folks in my community through an explorer program, and then also through Boy Scouts that I was able to connect with several individuals within the police department.
[0:42:25.0] KM: Let’s say you don’t know anybody in your family that’s in the law enforcement. Should they become Boy Scout?
[0:42:33.5] KB: Boy Scouts is a great organization. I’m on their executive board for the State of Arkansas. We also have citizens police academies that we offer three or four a year.
[0:42:43.2] KM: Is that on your website?
[0:42:44.3] KB: It’s on our website. When we offer those, we’ve had I believe two or three already this year.
[0:42:49.3] KM: What age?
[0:42:51.4] KB: I can’t remember the age requirement, but we’ve done one for youth before. We did one for deaf and hard of hearing. We’ve done one for Latinos. We’ve done one for women. We’ve done one for just — We do general police academy. Any of the ones that have a special interest to them, anyone is still welcome to come and there’ll just be like the one we did for Hispanics, it was done in Spanish.
We have a number of different avenues for you to interact with the police and we also originally started a telephone reporting/cadet program that allows young 18-year-old individuals to join and work in a civilian capacity, taking reports over the phone and then also have some cadet hours that you do until you turn 21.
[0:43:32.6] KM: It’s like if you want to be in the theater, you don’t have to be an actor. You can be behind the scenes.
[0:43:39.3] KB: That’s right.
[0:43:39.6] KM: If you want to be a police officer, you don’t have to be —
[0:43:44.3] KB: Although officers start out as a uniform or patrol officer, but there are several different avenues that you can do in the police department once you have the time. There are a number of different civilian capacities to your point that give you an opportunity to work for a police department.
[0:44:00.0] KM: Does the police department pay for any college education?
[0:44:03.1] KB: We offer tuition reimbursement. Right now that’s about $1,500 a year that you can receive. About today’s standard, it’s probably going to get you a class, but it’s better than nothing. There are certainly a number of programs out there that will take the hours that you obtained during your 24-week academy and give you college credit for some of those so you’re not starting out from zero.
[0:44:24.1] KM: Oh, that’s nice to hear. You’re a part of Big Brother and Big Sisters. Why?
[0:44:28.6] KB: That was in Louisville. I got a young man when he was 10 and when I left there he was right approaching 15 or so, and I actually did it for balance because I’m kind of a workaholic and I wanted to do something productive to work with a young man. Growing up without a father, I knew the value of having a positive male role model. That was the reason I did it, and I enjoyed it and anyone that wants to get involved in something constructive, Big Brothers and Big Sisters is a great evidence-based organization that does a good job with young people.
[0:45:00.7] KM: You mean evidence-based because they get results.
[0:45:03.0] KB: They get results and they document their results, and the reason I say that is there are a lot of people who come to disguise or do good or what I would call poverty pirates. They sound like they’re trying to do something good through some sort of nonprofit, but they have nothing to show forth other the money that they’ve collected and put in their own pockets.
[0:45:23.8] KM: Poverty pirates. Let’s tweet out poverty pirates. Look out for them. You want it to be evidence-based. Kenton Buckner, it has been such an honor. I hope you’ll come back because we could talk again.
Since I own Flag & Banner, this is what you’re getting. It’s a U.S. flag for your desk. It’s a desk set, and that’s a U.S. flag.
[0:45:45.1] KB: Always in the middle like it’s supposed to be.
[0:45:45.6] KM: That’s right, and the Arkansas. Guess what that is?
[0:45:48.1] KB: State of Kentucky.
[0:45:48.8] KM: It sure is.
[0:45:49.9] KB: Nice one.
[0:45:50.4] KM: Yeah. I made him laugh. It’s to take a little bit.
[0:45:53.4] KB: That’s nice. I like it.
[0:45:55.9] KM: I thought you might. I wanted to give you the blue — What’s it called, Tim?
[0:45:59.6] TB: The thin blue line.
[0:46:00.7] KM: The thin blue line, which is the police flag.
[0:46:03.2] KB: I like the Kentucky in there though. That’s a nice touch.
[0:46:04.9] KM: You watch their college football?
[0:46:07.3] KB: I do. I’m more of a basketball fan. I enjoy —
[0:46:11.0] KM: That’s not the one that’s got the great basketball. Did you go to the school that has the great basketball?
[0:46:16.0] KB: No, I went to Eastern Kentucky, which is about 15 minutes from Lexington where is where the University of Kentucky —
[0:46:20.8] KM: But Kentucky is a basketball state.
[0:46:22.2] KB: It’s a basketball state. Football is something they do to stay in shape for basketball season.
[0:46:29.1] KM: I like that tweet too. Tim, who’s our guest next week?
[0:46:33.8] TB: Next week is going to be Kevin Kresse who is doing a monument of Levon Helm.
[0:46:39.6] KM: Kevin Kresse.
[0:46:41.2] TB: Kresse. The artist.
[0:46:42.1] KM: Levon Helm is — Was it Woodstock?
[0:46:44.8] TB: Yes. He was with the band.
[0:46:47.1] KM: Is that who he was with?
[0:46:48.0] KB: I believe. Yes.
[0:46:49.1] KM: He’s famous. Well, their family contracted him to make this bus, so he’s doing good.
To my listeners, if you have a great entrepreneurial story you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you. Send a brief bio and your contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will be in touch.
Finally, to our listeners, thank you for spending time with me. If you think this program has been about you, you’re right, but it’s also been for me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you’ve heard or learned something that’s been inspiring or enlightening and that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life.
I’m Kerry McCoy, and I’ll see you next time on Up In Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:47:34.7] TB: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Want to hear today’s program again or want someone else to benefit from it? Jot this down. Next week a podcast will be available flagandbanner.com. Click the tab labeled “Radio Show”, there you’ll find today’s segments with links to resources you heard discussed on this program. Kerry’s goal: to help you live the American Dream.