Arkansas state Rep. Fred Love has filed a new bill, proposing to create a new Law Enforcement Integrity Unit within the Arkansas State Police.
The bill, currently entitled House Bill 1007, was filed on Monday, Nov. 23 and would create the Law Enforcement Integrity Act of 2021. Under this act, the state would create a multi-tiered Law Enforcement Integrity Unit within the Division of Arkansas State Police. This unit would be responsible for overseeing law enforcement abuse of power and civil right violations allegations.
This unit would consist of three offices: the Investigation Office, the Law Enforcement Officer Abuse Hotline Office and the Searchable Database Office. The Investigation Office would be charged with investigating alleged abuses of power and/or civil rights violations by law enforcement officers. The office, staffed by civilian personnel and law enforcement officers, would report to a prosecuting attorney. The Law Enforcement Officer Abuse Hotline Office would create a 24-hour, toll free telephone service for reporting allegations of police power abuses or civil rights violations by law enforcement officers. The Searchable Database Office would “create and maintain a searchable database of all law enforcement officers who have been accused of an abuse of police power or of violating a person’s civil rights while acting as a law enforcement officer,”according to the bill.
This database would include the law enforcement officer’s name and the basis for the abuse/civil rights violation finding. Using the collected data, the database unit would also compile statewide statistics on power abuses and civil rights violations by law enforcement officers throughout the state. This report would be due by Dec. 1 annually and be presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Committee on Judiciary and the Arkansas Governor.
Based on the bill’s current language, the database would not be made public and would not be subject to request made under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act of 1967.
The individuals and entities that would be allowed to access the database would be limited. Any current or former law enforcement officers whose names have been included in the database or their attorneys (when authorized in writing by the law enforcement officers) would be allowed to access that specific officer’s entry.
A criminal justice agency could access an officer’s entry when requesting information for an employment application. This request would be limited to only the applying officer. Criminal justice agencies can also request an entry when performing a criminal background check under the Polygraph Examiners Licensing Act , or the Private Security Agency, Private Investigator and School Security Licensing Act.
Public and private schools can made requests from the database of a current or former officer when that officer is applying for employment.
A court can make a request of the searchable database for any reason, while a prosecuting attorney can make a request for a criminal justice purpose.
State agencies or boards, including the Arkansas Crime Information Center, the Division of Correction and the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training, can also make requests when licensing an individual for a “specific profession or occupation.”