Louisville Metro asst. chief to be next Little Rock Police chief
LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - City manager Bruce Moore announced on Wednesday the new selection of police chief for the capitol city. Kenton T. Buckner, assistant police chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department will become Little Rock's 37th police chief. "I am excited to have Chief Buckner lead the Little Rock Police Department," said Moore in a press release. "Throughout his career he has shown a strong commitment to not only the police profession but also to public engagement." Buckner joined the Louisville Metro Police Department in 1993. Since 2011, he has been in the rank of assistant chief, overseeing the Support Bureau which contains Major Crimes, Narcotics/Intelligence and Special Operations. Chief Buckner has a Bachelor of Science and a Masters degree from Eastern Kentucky University. He's a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Kentucky Police Chiefs Association, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and Police Executive Research Forum. The search for Little Rock's next police chief started with 59 applications, widdled down to just seven candidates. The three finalists included Buckner, along with John Ray, the chief executive deputy for the Tarrant County Sheriff's office in Texas, and Eric Higgins, the current assistant police chief for the city of Little Rock.Not everyone is happy about the hire made on Wednesday. Rev. Benny Johnson with Arkansas Stop the Violence sent out a press release expressing his disappointment in the choice of Chief Buckner over Asst. Chief Eric Higgins."We the members of Arkansas Stop the Violence, are very disappointed in the selection of the new Little Rock Police Chief. Chief Higgins has paid his dues, he has come up through the ranks and he knows the department inside and out - he is also very professional. We feel that this is a slap in the face when you go many miles away and bring in someone new that doesn't even know the department. We the members of the Arkansas Stop the Violence Movement believe that Bruce Moore made a bad decision by choosing someone that hasn't shown any compassion for the streets of Little Rock like Chief Higgins.""I just felt that Chief Buckner is going to bring passion, he's been in a metro department of a city of 700,000, there's something that they've experienced that we haven't," responded Moore, stating he believes his choice to be the right one.Chief Buckner understands there may be some tension when he takes the helm on June 30, but said that's the case with any change in leadership, something he's experienced before. "If people focus on the mission and what's at hand and what we have to do to secure the city and what we have in common, I think that will heal some of these wounds," said Buckner.Detective Jarred McCauley, president of Little Rock's Fraternal Order of Police, said he doesn't anticipate any backlash from officers.McCauley said in a phone interview, "As long as we can continue to work with the chief's office for the betterment of Little Rock police officers and its citizens, we're more than happy to work with anyone they would have chosen off that list."Buckner believes the city's biggest problem is violent crime, especially black-on-black violent crime which he said isn't just a Little Rock problem. He says that's one of the biggest issues he plans to tackle when he starts as top cop.