JONESBORO — Members of the governor’s law enforcement task force collected opinions from residents statewide on their experience with police in their communities.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson established that 18-person advisory panel in June to review the adequacy of law enforcement training, policy and operations related to “cultural, racial and community relations,” analyze accountability and decertification of officers that would be used to establish a statewide database of complaints, review effectiveness of community policing and study recruitment.
“Our law enforcement standards were brought about 45 years ago and since that time there has not been a comprehensive review of our standards, of our accountability and how we can improve our current system of training and holding our officers accountable,” Hutchinson said.
The task force is a “very diverse group” of law enforcement officers and community leaders, El Centro Hispano executive director Gina Gomez said. Members representing Northeast Arkansas include Gomez, Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd and Blytheville Mayor James Sanders.
“I have a deeper understanding of it, an understanding of how I can contribute to improving the relationship between the community and law enforcement,” Gomez said. “I think all the work that we’ve been doing will show positive changes.”
Cities across the state, including Jonesboro, posted links to the survey on their Facebook pages.
“It’s your government listening. … It’s our governor trying to be proactive with the people in the state so we’re sharing it out of goodwill,” said Bill Campbell, the city’s communications director.
Gomez said it was an opportunity for Arkansans to sound off. The survey was available in English and Spanish to ensure that the Hispanic community had access to it.
“Community relations was a big part of the task force’s work,” she said. “Hearing from the community, knowing about their positive and negative experiences when it comes to community policing, will give us information that will help with our recommendations to the governor.”
The task force met Thursday in Rogers and members will compile the responses in a report they’ll submit to Hutchinson, Gomez said.
The Sun‘s efforts to reach Boyd and Sanders were unsuccessful.