by Max Brantley
As expected, the city of Little Rock today asked the Court of Appeals to stay Judge Wendell Griffen's order opening Little Rock police records on use of force by Lt. David Hudson. Hudson was captured on video beating Chris Erwin before arresting him for disorderly conduct at a Little Rock restaurant where Hudson worked as private security. Hudson has been involved in at least three other uses of force, including once on a customer at the same restaurant.
The city claims that any investigation of use of force is a personnel record and only open to the public in the event of suspension or termination.
If the appeals court upholds that view, the law is a disaster and needs to be changed. An outlaw police force — one that never saw a use of office force it didn't like — would never suspend or fire an officer for beating someone and thus would never have to release any records, even for an officer with a pattern of repeat physical violence with suspects.
The city of Little Rock's insistence on keeping current and former investigations of police force under wraps does not build confidence in the city or its police department. What's to hide? I'd ask the same question of Hudson. Even if the law allows secrecy, it does not REQUIRE it. Release the records.