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story.lead_photo.caption A screen shot of video from Arkansas State Police dashcam.

SPRINGDALE -- The Arkansas State Police is conducting an administrative review of the troop that patrols Northwest Arkansas following several incidents this year, a police spokesman confirmed.

The incidents include a high-speed pursuit that ended with a trooper striking a lieutenant with his vehicle and two civilian employees who were suspended for making false claims on their payroll records, spokesman Bill Sadler said.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/CHARLIE KAIJO The Arkansas State Police Troop L building is shown in Springdale on Thursday. The Arkansas State Police is conducting an administrative review of the troop that patrols Northwest Arkansas following several incidents this year, a police spokesman confirmed

Sadler said commanders from administrative headquarters and personnel from the department's Office of Professional Standards will meet with Troop L supervisors and troopers to review "routine practices and procedures."

The scope of the review and other specifics aren't clear. Sadler on Thursday said troop leaders would give no further statements on the review. Capt. Lance King, Troop L commander, was out of town and couldn't be reached for comment Thursday afternoon, according to staff answering his calls at troop headquarters in Springdale.

The review began this month at the request of King and other police officials and was authorized by Col. Bill Bryant, State Police director, Sadler said. Troop L covers Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties.

The high-speed pursuit occurred in the Springdale area on Jan. 11. Trooper Alan Aiken joined a chase of a vehicle spotted going more than 100 mph and weaving in and out of oncoming traffic on U.S. 412. He followed the vehicle to near the troop's headquarters off Interstate 49.

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The video recording from Aiken's vehicle shows he turned off of U.S. 412 to 48th Street, then pulled onto a gravel drive where the fleeing vehicle and two police cars can be seen parked. As Aiken turned onto the gravel and slowed to a halt, a man in plain clothes ran into his path. Aiken's car struck him from behind on the passenger side, knocking him sideways to the ground.

The man, identified in incident reports as Lt. John Overman of the State Police, got up and continued in the same direction with a slight limp. Aiken, whose report states he mistook Overman for the fleeing driver, yelled at Overman to get on the ground and briefly pointed his handgun at Overman before recognizing him. Overman motioned behind him toward where the suspect had run.

Aiken and other officers then chased the driver and arrested him. Cody Whiteeagle, 27, pleaded guilty in July to aggravated assault and fleeing and was sentenced to six years in state prison, according to Washington County Circuit Court records.

Aiken's supervisor, Sgt. Daniel Nichols, wrote in a memo to King that Aiken used profanity and didn't have his body microphone on during the incident, but otherwise acted professionally during the chase. Sadler said Aiken wasn't punished.

Overman filed a complaint against Aiken last week and said Aiken wasn't taking the incident seriously despite the fact it caused Overman what he called "lifelong injuries." Overman accused Aiken of wanting to make a plaque from a piece of the bumper that hit him. He also said the troop was directed to avoid including Aiken in pursuits of suspects.

Sadler said the complaint is being investigated by the professional standards office.

In other incidents, two civilian telecommunications operators for the troop were suspended for several days without pay after Maj. Forrest Marks accused them of documenting sick leave as work time "on numerous occasions," according to a report. The State Police Review Board unanimously found the accusations were true, according to letters to the operators from Bryant.

Sadler said Overman's complaint isn't related to the two suspensions. He later said "other allegations that are being looked into" led to the request for the review. He declined to say what the allegations were.

NW News on 09/29/2017

Print Headline: State Police reviewing local troop

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