Police Chief faces yet another lawsuit as he reportedly investigates himself.

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LITTLE ROCK, AR – It seems that every place we look in the upper echelon of the Little Rock police department, there is something tainted with corruption. 

Follow along – at first you may think, “Oh, that’s bad.”  But like the guy on the TV commercials, the little voice in your head says, “But wait – there’s more!”

The police chief in most departments, large and small, oversees investigations by the department’s internal affairs division or office, and the chief usually makes a final determination on a given case.

Except in Little Rock, and the officer being investigated IS the chief. 

This chief, Keith Humphrey, has reportedly withheld the personnel files of several officers being investigated, so internal affairs essentially hands the investigations to the chief for the conclusion.

And after looking at all the mess here, it’s fair to say that the chief wouldn’t see anything wrong with anything he’s done, and any charges or allegations would be dismissed.

Chief Humphrey took over as Little Rock Police Chief in early 2019. Many in the police field have wondered aloud how Humphrey could even get the job in Little Rock, as several issues would have been red flags on a standard background check. 

There are many, many rumors and stories about his conduct, both professionally and personally, before coming to Little Rock, but the main issue was his finances.  Multiple suits were filed against Humphrey at around the same time he took the helm in Little Rock.

He already had two court judgements for non-payment of credit cards totaling $27,036.05.  Another suit is currently pending for an additional $15,870.94.

The major portion of this case revolves around the chief’s unusual treatment of the case regarding  Officer Charles Starks

Law Enforcement Today has reported extensively on the case since March of 2019. But here’s the gist as a refresher:

Officer Starks was involved in a shooting and the department’s leadership team cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Humphrey refused to clear him, though, and fired Starks. 

This scenario also involves Assistant Chief Hayward Finks.  Finks testified in Starks’ appeal that he felt the investigation was “rushed and incomplete.”  Since Finks’ testimony, Humphrey fired Starks, despite Finks and the entire chain of command indicating the shooting was justified.  

Finks has since filed a lawsuit against Humphrey; more on that in a minute.

Another “crossing the line” moment occurred when Humphrey nominated Karen Hunter for an $80,000 a year finance position in the department and has allegedly intervened with department managers to push the nomination through. 

Interestingly, several issues exist surrounding Karen Hunter: 

She has an active warrant for her arrest at the time of her application and has her own legal issues with failure to pay credit card debt. Yet, the chief thinks she’d be a good pick for a finance position.  Maybe he was convinced after a “personal interview,” since his car was seen backed into her driveway at 6 in the morning. 

The chief said he was just delivering a police report.  Is that what they call it nowadays?

By the way, the city’s human resources department was already investigating the chief’s unusual relationship with Hunter and his interference in her hiring process.

We all know that background investigations include credit checks and that defaults that may be in place by applicant must be settled and cleared before they can be hired.  

Credit compliance is directly indicative of character and ethics.  It appears that this chief is the poster child for what not to do concerning those qualities.

Most police departments conduct these checks during the interview process, and for good reason. 

For example, from the Las Vegas Metro Police Department:

“Credit history information will be reviewed to determine a candidate’s history relating to accountability and responsibility. All delinquent accounts must be resolved prior to the conclusion of a background investigation.”

The Lubbock (TX) Police Department supports that position and explains further:

“A candidate’s bad credit could mean no job because officials say it can be a sign of bad judgment and irresponsibility.”

It remains to be seen how much and to what level of accountability will be enforced in the case of Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey.

Back to Assistant Chief Hayward Finks.

In April, Finks filed a lawsuit against Humphrey alleging that Humphrey has been punishing him since the statements made against him regarding Officer Starks, calling it a “campaign of retaliation.”

The lawsuit says:

“Finks told nothing but the truth regarding the investigation into Officer Starks’ shooting of Blackshire. This testimony contradicted Chief Humphrey and cast his leadership in a bad light.”

The lawsuit also mentions Assistant Chief Alice Fulks (who has now filed her own suit) and Sgt. Tori Trammell, saying that Humphrey has also “retaliated” against and “chastised” them, respectively.

Finks claimed in the lawsuit that Humphrey had accused Finks of lying about the handling arrests during a protest, but then blocked Finks’ request for an internal investigation to prove that he was telling the truth. Finks said that Humphrey also yells and slams doors around Finks. Additionally, Finks said that his brother, Sgt. Duane Finks, and friend, Sgt. Reginald Parks, who have both joined the lawsuit, were demoted via text message by Humphrey and never told why.

A hearing is currently set for May 28.

Neither the Chief nor the City have responded to the lawsuit or made a comment regarding it.

Humphrey has also been accused of gender discrimination, as well as violating state public record laws.  Three women have reportedly come forward to claim that Humphrey has harassed them, though details on that have not been released yet.

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Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said she could not comment.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr did say, however, that he believes a “third party review” of the entire police department is “long overdue.” 

The Mayor said on Tuesday evening:

“If you are a resident of Little Rock, you may agree with me that it is long overdue. While I won’t cite all of the systemic issues that exist within the department, here are a few: nepotism, de-escalation tactics training and cultural competency, the internal affairs process, and abuse of authority.”

Little Rock’s attorney, Chris Burks, has said that the Mayor’s investigation is not necessary because there are already investigations against Humphrey.

Burks said:

“We don’t need to wait for the results of a third-party investigation to take action.”

What’s more is that Little Rock City Directors Lance Hines and Capi Peck said they have no confidence in Humphrey, while Vice Mayor B.J. Wyrick said he doesn’t have confidence in the Mayor’s investigation, suggesting instead that the attorney general’s office investigate Humphrey.

In an email to city officials, Wyrick said:

“Those seem to be stacked and biased. My two cents for this issue stems from the current chief’s actions in working with the rank and file at the police department. I have heard enough to warrant his review.”

So to review, Little Rock Chief Humphrey is being investigated by multiple entities for a credit card debt lawsuit, sexual harassment with three victims, violating state public record laws, retaliation with five victims, plus retaliation against Officer Starks that he claims but has not filed a suit for, and is under investigation for his role in attempting to get a woman with an arrest warrant and a sketchy financial history hired with the department.

Plus several top city and department personnel do not have confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead.

And yet, he remains the Chief of Police.

For more on the history of Officer Starks’ shooting as well as Chief Humphrey’s involvement in the case, you can read Law Enforcement Today’s previous reports on the incident HERE and HERE

Stay tuned- this is clearly still a developing situation and there will undoubtedly be more to report on it.

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