UPDATE [7:45 p.m.]
The Little Rock Board of Directors has approved legislation to create the River Market Entertainment District, allowing open containers of alcohol to be carried outdoors in a specified area of downtown.
Some city directors and one resident who spoke against the measure, citing concerns about drunk driving and juvenile mischief. Gabe Holmstrom, executive director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, spoke in favor of such districts and said that other municipalities he had spoken to who had them did not experience increased problems with youth drinking.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has pushed for the measure, saying it would help people enjoy the "flavor" of Little Rock's downtown.
City directors did not approve an emergency clause with the ordinance, so the measure will not go into effect for 30 days.
Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.
UPDATE [7 p.m.]
City directors approved an ordinance to establish an independent citizen review board for the Little Rock Police Department.
The five-member body will review police actions and investigations in the areas of corruption, discrimination and use of force. Members would receive training overseen by Police Chief Keith Humphrey and have the ability to call in forensic witnesses.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. had pushed for a review board for months, and at Tuesday's meeting the measure got support from Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) and gun safety advocate Eve Jorgensen. The department's two police unions, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Black Police Officers Association, were opposed.
The board was split, and Scott voted for the measure to break the tie.
An attorney representing the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police has urged the city Board of Directors to vote down a proposed ordinance that would establish an independent board to review police conduct.
In a letter dated Monday obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, lawyer Chad Cumming told city directors that the FOP chapter believes there is no need for a citizen’s review board in any form, as its purpose is already accomplished by other review mechanisms including the city’s Civil Service Commission.
Cumming argued that the proposed review board ordinance leaves out important details about its operations and investigative powers.
A vote on the review board is on city directors’ agenda for its 6 p.m. meeting. Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has said that the five-member body investigating complaints of corruption, discrimination and use of force by the Little Rock Police Department would strengthen police-community relationships and provide an outlet where complaints can be heard.
Police Chief Keith Humphrey said he believed review boards would become mandatory in the coming years. The Civil Service Commission investigates use of force complaints but not corruption or discrimination, according to the city.
Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police president Ronnie Morgan opposed the creation of a board in a statement last week.
FOP letter to city boardView
Cumming said in the letter that the proposed ordinance as written does not respect the separation of powers, as review board members would be chosen by the mayor and report directly to him, leaving city directors with no oversight powers.
Additionally, Cumming said, the proposed ordinance does not include legal limitations on what the review board is authorized to review or any measure guaranteeing officers due process rights.
“This will hinder police action and make our city less safe,” he wrote.
Check back for updates and read Wednesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.