Little Rock police, pot and poverty | Arkansas Blog

Little Rock police, pot and poverty

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KENTON BUCKNER: Sees poverty as root of some crime problems.
  • KENTON BUCKNER: Sees poverty as root of some crime problems.
Ryan Tarinelli of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that misdemeanor marijuana arrests have been surging in Little Rock.

The 225 arrests through Nov. 9 is a four-year high and almost double the misdemeanor busts in 2012. Police insist there's no special emphasis on the arrests. Will it continue next year, in the era of legal medical marijuana?

From the article, it appears the busiest officers are in central and southwest Little Rock, the poorest parts of the city.

I'd love to know some precise demographics on these arrests — race, age, income status, employment. It would be important to know, too, the relative incidence of marijuana use on a demographic basis in considering those figures. I hear some rich white people in the Country Club neighborhood indulge now and then, but that's just rumor.

Economics come to mind because economics were on the mind of Police Chief Kenton Buckner in an extensive interview with Channel 4's Mitch McCoy.

Chief Buckner took over as Little Rock's top cop in 2014. He says most of the crime stems from a socioal economic cocktail.

"I think that starts with poverty, I think that starts with lack of education in some of these communities, I think that starts with single parent homes, substance abuse, absentee fathers, mental illness and high unemployment," says Buckner.

He says the system is nearly impossible to police. However, the broken system is falling in the lap of law enforcement, he says.

"We have young African American males who are in again that social economical disappointing system," says Buckner. "We are seeing that far too often. They are either the victims or the suspects in some of those kinds of incidents."
I wish the D-G article had been published at the time of the interview. It might have made for interesting comments on the rate of misdemeanor arrests in certain parts of town and how and when officers decide to use discretion.




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