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UPDATE: Blogger uncovers Little Rock Police policy violations in 2021 deadly chase. PD issues belated apology for lack of information.

I forgot the link this article from yesterday by blogger Russ Racop, whose obsessive search for public records drives the bureaucracy of Little Rock into a panic but often yields useful insights into the transparency-resistant administration of Mayor Frank Scott Jr.

It is a good example. Racop’s post contains documents about the March 2021 Little Rock police chase, sometimes at high speed, of an SUV occupied by three teenagers, including a 12-year-old driver who did not have permission to drive. use the family vehicle. It ended in an accident that killed a passenger and injured the driver and another passenger.

An officer did not follow the order not to pursue the driven vehicle. Another violated policy by attempting to “lock in” the stationary vehicle, a dangerous maneuver. The chase resumed, at speeds up to 102 mph, before a crash in Saline County.

According to Racop’s account, the cop who disobeyed the no-hunting order was Henry Topps, who resigned from the force in January. His name, however, is redacted from documents received by Racop because the officer was not suspended or fired following an administrative hearing. A redacted document says the officer received “advice”. The officer who boxed in the vehicle, Joshua Thomas, received a 40-hour suspension, according to the document obtained by Racop. Thomas is identified in the files received by Racop because he was suspended. I asked the LRPD for the name of the officer who initiated the pursuit. This information should be public and unprotected, even if it is subsequently subject to disciplinary review.

Racop’s report prompted other media outlets to ask the LRPD about the incident. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a department news release on Tuesday acknowledged that it had not provided adequate or timely information about the investigation into the officers’ role in the crash. UPDATE: Here is that version.

Traffic death was reported at the time. Saline County deputies mentioned that Little Rock police officers were present at the scene, but no details were given about their involvement in the triggering events.

Little Rock Police Spokesman Mark Edwards told the Democrat-Gazette that Racop’s account was misleading, but he gave no examples. Racop’s report was based on public records, including statements made by officers in administrative hearings.

The credibility of Edwards’ criticism of Racop should be seen in the context of the press release, provided belatedly thanks to Racop’s exposure:

The department “never acknowledged this incident,” a news release said, adding that there was “a lack of information” about the fatal crash. Officials said they would share incident details more quickly in the future.

“While information was limited on the night of the encounter, more information should have been provided following the administrative investigation,” the press release said.

Who’s fooling who?

According to the notice to the officer who initiated the continuation of the disciplinary proceedings posted by Racop:

Of the opinion to Thomas of a disciplinary procedure, another document put online by Racop:

Racop blasted Edwards for his comment this morning, saying a written apology letter ‘could prevent a libel suit’.

He distributed copies of the 150-page response he received from the city on this matter.

UPDATE: Racop notes that the city did not redact Topps’ name from a page of the letter in which an officer requested a hearing on disciplinary charges. He also says that a sign sheet and assignments for the Southwest Patrol Division on the day in question indicate Topps’ involvement.

UPDATE II: Mayoral candidate Steve Landers steps in.