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story.lead_photo.caption New Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey (center) is joined by his wife, Pamela, as he is sworn in Monday at City Hall by Little Rock District Judge Mark Leverett. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

Keith Humphrey was sworn in as Little Rock's 38th police chief Monday morning, marking his first day at a job he said he was eager to begin.

"This is home," Humphrey, who hails from Norman, Okla., told a gathering of city leaders, Police Department officials and friends at City Hall. "We're ready to get started."

At the brief ceremony, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said he was thrilled to welcome Humphrey to Little Rock and was hopeful he could improve the relationship between the department and the community.

"Chief Keith Humphrey is a man of integrity," Scott said. "He will strengthen, for some and others, what has been a city in need of making certain that we not only protect and serve its community but the community understands that we are protecting and serving."

In his remarks, Humphrey praised the department and said he was fortunate to know some of the people in it. He said he was starting the job about a week earlier than a date he'd previously given to the mayor, because he wanted to "get here as soon as possible."

"Let me tell you: whatever's fractured, we're going to fix. I can promise you that I'll never lie to you. I'll always be honest. You may not like some of the things I say, but I will do it intact, I will tell you that, I will do it very professionally. I will listen. I'm very humbled. There's a few words that I live by, and that's humility, faith and confidence," Humphrey said.

Humphrey succeeds former chief Kenton Buckner, who left in mid-November to lead the police force in Syracuse, N.Y. He'll take over for interim chief Wayne Bewley, whom the mayor thanked for helping him "navigate some unseen waters."

The new chief starts his job less than two months after 30-year-old Bradley Blackshire was shot and killed by a Little Rock officer during a traffic stop and as city leaders look at establishing an independent citizen review board and acquiring body-worn cameras for officers.

Addressing Blackshire's death as well as reviewing and publishing all department policies are among his priorities in his first days as chief, Humphrey told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last month. He also said he wanted to lay the groundwork for a citizen review or advisory board, having kick-started a similar board in Norman.

Humphrey was chief of police in the city of about 125,000 for about eight years. He's also worked in the Texas cities of Fort Worth, Arlington and Lancaster over his 30-year career.

"Let's get to work, and I'm telling you, I'm so excited. This is a dream come true," Humphrey said Monday.

He said he'd once told a friend that at some point in his career he'd lead this department, drawing laughter from the audience.

"God is good. God is so good, and I'm here for a purpose," Humphrey said.

A change of command ceremony will take place April 28 at 5 p.m. in the William Grant Still Grand Ballroom of the Robinson Center, 426 W. Markham St.

There, Humphrey will formally accept the duties from Bewley.

Photo by Staton Breidenthal
Little Rock Police Chief Keith Humphrey (left) talks with Pulaski County Sheriff Eric Higgins on Monday at City Hall after Humphrey was sworn in.

Metro on 04/16/2019

Print Headline: Humphrey takes reins of Little Rock Police Department

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