Members of the Little Rock Black Police Officers Association sent a letter to the city’s board of directors this week accusing Police Chief Kenton Buckner of racial discrimination.
Organization members are finally speaking out after repeated attempts to bring their concerns to Buckner and City Manager Bruce Moore, local station KATV reported.
In the letter obtained by the station, LRBPA members are demanding an independent investigation into the “discrimination, inequities and disparaging treatment of minority officers and supervisors under the command of Chief Kenton Buckner.” They’re also calling for the police chief to be disciplined, and possibly fired, if found in violation of the department’s policy.
Sgt. Willie Davis, one of several members with grievances against Buckner, claimed the police chief has repeatedly shown he does not support Black officers.
“The first thing he said was to get rid of the Black police association. There was no need for one,” Davis told the station. “Then he tried to explain why. That insulted a lot of us.”
The letter also alleges racial discrimination against Black officers for job promotions and transfers, as well as inconsistencies in disciplinary procedures with African-American and white officers and supervisors. Moreover, members accuse the department of failing to investigate violations of white officers and claim that white supervisors were given preferential treatment for educational opportunities, according to the news station.
“It’s our responsibility to make the chief, the city manager and the governor accountable to the actions the city is making and the things they do in their department,” Davis said, adding that he’s been concerned with Buckner’s treatment of Black officers for a while now.
“I’m not saying he’s totally against Black, but the appearance and what we’re seeing as an organization concern us,” he continued. “So I can’t say whether he’s pro Black or pro white, but the appearance is what our concern is, it appears that way.”
Sgt. John Gilchrist, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, disagreed with the allegations, however, and argued that they have no merit.
“Anyone with any intelligence will see right through this, and that I don’t think any of this can be substantiated,” Gilchrist told KATV.
A spokesman for Chief Buckner told the station he was unable to comment on the matter because it was a personnel issue.