Tuesday, September 27, 2016

BETHEL HEIGHTS POLICE OFFICER FIRED FOR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

 
DAVID HASTINGS


David Hastings, was a part-time police officer in Bethal Heights, until he made some questionable posts on Facebook.




   


   




 This is the photo that Hastings claims was "retarded".




 

Not only is Hastings a dumbass, he is ignorant of the law. Arkansas Code Annotated 21-1-106 gives any citizen the right to observe and record public events.  That means anyone can record the police make an arrest or while they beat the crap out of someone.




Hastings' posts went viral and the Bethal Heights Police Department was inundated with complaints from all over the world.

Surprisingly, the Bethal Height Police Department fired Hastings and made the announcement on Facebook. Karma at its finest.


Bethal Heights Police Department spokeswoman Corporal Chastity Mahan told a reporter with KFSM-TV that "[The posts] completely caught me blindsided, because I would not see this with this officer." Cpl. Mahan, added,  "You cannot be discriminatory on Facebook, you cannot cause public alarm. When you work for the public, and are in the public view, you need to be careful of everything that comes out of your mouth. You are a public servant, and you just need to be careful."




A facebooker noticed that Hastings also worked at Steve Landers Scion and contacted them about Hastings viral posts.

The dealership told the facebooker that if Hastings wanted to keep his job with them, he would have to "get off Facebook".







We hope the Bethal Heights Police Department recommends that Hastings loose his law enforcement certification when they send the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards & Training ("CLEST") his F-4 form.


http://5newsonline.com/2016/09/27/bethel-heights-pd-fires-officer-over-black-lives-matter-facebook-comments/

************ 

*UPDATE*
09/28/16

Here are documents we obtained from the Bethal Heights PD.  They did not recommend decertification so Hasting may show up at another department.






Sunday, September 18, 2016

MONTICELLO MAYOR ZACK TUCKER CHARGED WITH FELONY

 
ZACKERY A. TUCKER - MAYOR OF MONTICELLO, AR
 
Thomas Deen, the prosecuting attorney of the 10th Judicial District filed felony charges against Zack Tucker, the mayor of Monticello on September 16th.  

 
THOMAS DEEN - PROSECUTING ATTORNEY FOR 10th JUDICIAL DISTRICT

Tucker was charged with  tampering with a public record (Class D Felony) and abuse of office (Class B misdemeanor).  




From the court filings it appears that Tucker did some creative bookkeeping to hide misuse of public funds.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

MADISON COUNTY DEPUTY LEAVES POLICE DOG IN VEHICLE - DOG DIES DUE TO HEAT

MADISON COUNTY DEPUTY JONATHON CORNELISON AND LINA
A police dog with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office is dead after being left unattended in a hot vehicle, according to Sheriff Phillip Morgan. 

The K-9’s name is Lina and she was about three years old, Morgan said. Lina was acquired from donations from businesses and citizens of the county, according to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. She came from K-9 Working Dogs International, LLC and was a Belgian Malinos. 

Lina was trained to track and detect narcotics.

Deputy Jonathon Cornelison was trained to handle Lina. Cornelison is on paid administrative leave while an investigation is being conducted by the Washington  County Sheriff's office into the dogs death.

The reported high temperature in the area was 83 degrees when the dog was left in the vehicle.

There have been more than 50 U.S. police dog deaths since 2011 from having been left in hot vehicles.

An additional 18 or so U.S. police dogs died of heatstroke after being pushed too hard during training exercises, while tied outside in direct sunlight or other reasons.

Both veteran handlers and animal advocates say such deaths are preventable and illustrate acts of negligence or over-reliance on technology to protect the dogs.

Police officers need to be held to a higher standard to protect their canine partners, said Russ Hess, a retired handler and executive director of the United States Police K9 Association.

“We’re only humans, and humans make mistakes … but the responsibility stays with the officer to check on his dog just as if it were his child,” Hess said.

Sadly, in Arkansas a child left to die in a vehicle is not too big of a deal either.  Especially if the parent that left the child in the car to die is a judge.

************

**UPDATE**
9/27/16

The Madison County Sheriff's Office ("MCSO") has suspended a deputy after the death of a K-9 officer.

The MCSO issued a news release on Monday detailing the disciplinary actions taken against Deputy Jonathon Cornelison after the Sept. 9 death of K-9 Lina, who was left inside a hot car.

The deputy will be suspended for 60 days without pay. He will be removed from the K-9 program, decertified as a K-9 Handler and issued a letter of reprimand that will be placed in his file.

The Sheriff's Office said Deputy Cornelison was negligent but his actions were not criminal. Washington County Prosecutor Matthew Durrett did not file charges against the deputy.

The investigation gave other information to the MCSO, like heat sensors in K-9 vehicles. The Sheriff's Office said additional policies on deputies getting called out are being drafted and will be put in place, as well as a closer watch on fatigue factor in the workplace.

Deputy Cornelison will return to his duties as a Deputy Sheriff after he serves his suspension.

Friday, September 9, 2016

STATE POLICE CAPTAIN ARRESTED IN PARK IN STATE VEHICLE - USED STATE ISSUED COMPUTER TO SURF FOR PORN, HOOKUPS



CAPT. DAVIS HANDCUFFED IN FT. SMITH POLICE CAR


The computer web browser history of a police captain who recently resigned after his arrest for loitering for the purpose of sexual activity reveals he did some web surfing for explicit content on his state-issued computer. 

 
FT. SMITH POLICE PHOTO OF LAPTOP ON WHICH DAVIS WAS WATCHING PORN


Arkansas State Police say it has a monitoring system and computer policy in place, but the captain wasn't under investigation prior to his arrest.

Based on the web history, television station Fox16 obtained from Arkansas State Police in a Freedom of Information request, former ASP Captain Bryan Davis started his Internet activities early on August 30th with searches of Craigslist personal ads around 8 o'clock that Tuesday morning.

 


It continued throughout the day, multiple ads, multiple email messages, until it ended at Wifelovers.com around 4 o'clock that afternoon.
 

  
Wifelovers.com was the last page Davis accessed before being arrested around 4:30 p.m. near a walking trail in a Fort Smith park.

Audio from undercover officers' interactions with Davis reveal the circumstances on scene.

"Are you watching some porn?" the female officer asked. Davis replied in the affirmative. More sexually charged talk continues until Davis agrees to get into the car, saying he wants to watch the other couple first.

"I have never done anything like this, and I don't want to get in trouble," Davis can be heard saying.

The undercover officers whip out their badges once Davis is inside the vehicle. He denies that he's a police officer, and the undercover officers confirm that they are. Davis, as he continues talking to the undercover officers after he's under arrest, confirms he's in a state vehicle.

"We don't have court on the side of the road. I've been doing this for years," the male undercover officer tells him. "You were doing some stuff you shouldn't have been doing and you know it..."

The male undercover officer has been identified from Davis' affidavit for arrest
as Richard Wright and the female officer as Kathy Jones.

DET. RICHARD WRIGHT
DET. KATHY JONES

Arkansas State Police declined an on-camera interview with FOX16, saying its computer use policy speaks for itself. You can read the full policy here. It does state that inappropriate computer use includes accessing pornographic material, which can result in termination. That use can be monitored without notice.

State Police spokesperson Bill Sadler said the agency uses to methods of monitoring computer use: electronic gateway and live monitoring. According to Sadler, the electronic gateway will flag a website that is not pre-loaded or seems to be inappropriate. The user can still access that website by entering a username and password. That can then generate a note, according to Sadler, that can be reviewed by administrators.

When FOX16 initially asked Sadler if the system had generated any notes on Davis' use, he said no search had been conducted by Arkansas State Police regarding the notes from the monitoring system. He noted the only search that had been conducted on that computer once it was taken out of Davis' possession was the search to fulfill FOX16's AFOIA request for the web history.

So, it remains unclear if the monitoring system worked as described. It's also unclear why the web history only extends back to a limited amount of time. According to Sadler, ASP could only provide the web history that was on the machine itself. It remains unclear if Arkansas State Police in fact have a web browser history that extends further back than what was provided through its network monitoring program.

ASP would not disclose how the monitoring system is implemented or how use is monitored off the network. Sadler did confirm that commanders like Davis are given greater access.

"Because of the necessity of mobility of not only the commanders, but all commissioned personnel, there are provisions in the state police computer network for these users to gain internet access through other sources.  This is not "leniency", this is an accepted provision in operations that allows state troopers to carry-out their law enforcement duties, regardless of location, terrain or environment.  Use of an alternate off-network source does not negate the department's policies, regardless of the connectivity source," Sadler said.

But it remained unclear how or if the agency could then monitor the use in those situations of off-network connection. Sadler said he wouldn't explain the monitoring further, "Any further discussion of the state police computer network operations and protocols, other than those I disclosed to you on Wednesday would compromise the integrity of the system and it would be absolutely irresponsible to disclose anything further.  Bottom line, regardless of connectivity, policy still applies."

Sadler also stated that ASP would be looking no further into how long Davis may have been using the agency's resources in this way. According to Sadler, the issue was irrelevant because Davis had resigned. When asked if the agency was not interested in how a commander could possibly sidestep monitoring and ignore the policies to access sexually explicit content, Sadler again reiterated that the issue was irrelevant.

"You can try to connect the dots, if you want. The fact of the matter is he resigned. He is no longer an employee of the Arkansas State Police. It's irrelevant," Sadler said.

We have some news for you Bill, it is extremely relevant to the people of Arkansas and should be a great concern to the Arkansas State Police that this was able to occur in light of policy and procedures in place to monitor state owned computer usage.

If ASP does not recommend that his certification be revoked, Davis can go to work at any law enforcement agency in Arkansas that will hire him.

Shameful.


************

Links to our previous posts about Davis:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

ARKANSAS' $100K WILD GOOSE CHASE




In March 2016, Arkansas began screening individuals that are applying for Transitional Employment Assistant ("TEA") and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ("TANF").

The new drug screening program was set up through Act 1205 of 2015, commonly referred to as the Drug Screening and Testing Act of 2015.

A provision in the Act 1205 allowed for the creation of a pilot program focused on Arkansas counties that border states with pre-existing drug screening requirements for people applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. Governor Asa Hutchinson's office announced earlier this week that the state planned to move forward with statewide drug screening instead.

"The statute as it reads, we feel as if we're following the law," said J.R. Davis, spokesperson for Gov. Hutchinson, in regard to a lack of a pilot program. "But there were some thoughts from the Attorney General as well as far as targeting one particular county over another."
 
J.R. DAVIS - GOV. HUTCHINSON'S SPIN DOCTOR

And we all know that Leslie Rutledge is one of the smartest legal minds in Arkansas. 




TANF first-time applicants will now be asked two more questions in their application for government assistance - considered to be the "drug screen."

"One would be, 'are you using illegal drugs,' and if the answer to that is yes, 'have you lost your job because of that fact,'" said Davis.

If TANF applicants answer yes to either question, applicants will be referred to the Department of Workforce Services for a drug test via urinalysis.

Applicants can refuse to take the drug test, but that would result in a six-month suspension of any government assistance benefits.

Drug tests with negative results for illegal drugs would be paid for by the state. If a drug test comes back positive for illicit drugs, applicants would not lose their benefits, but rather they must enter a drug treatment program that has benchmarks to be met to allow applicants to continue receiving benefits. A positive drug test however would be paid for using the applicant's government benefits.

"We can be there to help that individual," said Davis.

Right, the government will help.  Famous last words.

The following is a great article about this wonderful, money saving program.

************

Amanda Hoelzeman - Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families- August 17, 2016


The first four months of the Arkansas program that screens welfare recipients for drugs has been just as successful as it has been in other states: that is, not at all. Drug screenings for public benefits have proven expensive, wasteful and inefficient at “catching” drug users elsewhere in the nation. So, it is no surprise that only one positive test result has been found out of 800 Arkansas applicants so far. A total of five people have been denied benefits (four of them simply refused to take the test).

At this rate, Arkansas will deny a total of only 15 people per year, for a program with an annual price tag of $100,000. That is a cost of about $550 a month per person denied, or more than twice the monthly benefit for a family of three. That makes the cost of administering the program more expensive than allowing those few people to stay on the program. Keep in mind that this program offers no real support for those few people truly trapped in a damaging cycle of drug abuse – it just shows them the door.

Here’s a short list of things more likely to happen than an Arkansas welfare recipient testing positive for drugs (the odds of our welfare recipients testing positive are 1 out of 800):
  • You are more likely to be born with extra fingers or toes (1 in 500)
  • You are more (much more) likely to be audited (1 in 119)
  • You are more likely to catch a ball if you’re at a major league baseball game (1 in 570).
This drug screening program is a solution looking for a problem. There are still plenty of real problems in Arkansas. For example, Arkansas kids are very likely to grow up in poverty (1 in 4 kids do) or drop out of school (20 percent of students in Arkansas high schools don’t graduate on time). Perhaps we should focus on these issues instead.

We all have a stake in making sure our lawmakers invest in policies that help all of our kids grow up healthy and successful. Instead of wasting money on the Arkansas legislature’s ongoing attack on the poor, we should invest in community building assets like libraries, after-school and summer programs, and improvements to the foster care system.



Monday, September 5, 2016

COTTON PLANT ARKANSAS - A HOTBED OF CRIME

Who knew that a little town in rural Woodruff County with a population of only 649 residents could be bustling with criminal activity.

Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and take a look.

(1) Executive Director of Cotton Plant Housing Authority and Maintenance Supervisor admit to defrauding the Housing Authority of funds


Two former employees with the Cotton Plant Housing Authority pleaded guilty September 2nd to felony charges for defrauding the housing authority.


Between January 2001 and December 2014, Rhonda Williams and her husband, Gary Williams, both of Des Arc, received more than $52,000 by conspiring to use the housing authority's funds to pay for personal expenses, according to a news release from Chris Thyer, U.S. attorney for theEastern District of Arkansas.

Rhonda Williams, 50, was the executive director of the housing authority and Gary, 59, was the maintenance supervisor, according to the release.







Each pleaded guilty to felony charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering.


According to federal court filings, the Williamses "solicited and accepted bribes and kickbacks from Housing Authority contractors," who paid them with public money received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


The Williamses also were accused of using the housing authority's equipment for construction on their personal residence, and paying for personal expenses with the agency's credit cards.

 
The Williams residence, a meager $350k hovel

 
Their backyard pool (photo from Rhonda's facebook page)


In once instance, the Williamses purchased a 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe valued at $32,129 with a check drawn from the housing authority's bank account and made payable to Gwatney Chevrolet in Jacksonville, according to court records.


All bank accounts related to the charges have been frozen, and, under the plea, the Williamses will forfeit all property traceable to the offenses. The full extent of the housing authority's loss will be determined during a sentencing hearing, according to the news release.


Both Gary and Rhonda Williams are represented by Jacksonville attorney Hubert Alexander.


The couple had been under investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


On March 4, 2015, a U.S. magistrate judge issued temporary restraining orders preventing the pair from accessing from their retirement policies held by the Lafayette Life Insurance Co. along with bank accounts at the Signature Bank of Arkansas. It was during the period of the restraining orders that the government established probable cause that the bank accounts held proceeds from the conspiracy, according to court records.

In February 2015, when the IRS executed a search warrant at the Williams residence, they found several illegal items. The IRS notified the Prairie County Sheriff's Department because those items where not covered by their search warrant. 

The Prairie County Sheriff's Department then obtained a search warrant picked up some marijuana, scales, Hydrocodone and Adapex (in pill bottles prescribed to other individuals) and 44 firearms. The firearms are a problem in that Gary is a convicted felon (Possession of a Controlled substance in 1977) and it is unlawful for him to possess any firearms.



 

 Those items led to charges being filed against Gary Williams.



Apparently Rhonda was a little upset when the IRS and Prairie County Sheriff's Department showed up at her home, unannounced.


The case in Circuit Court is still active and no trial date has been scheduled as of the publishing of this story.

 ************

(2) Cotton Plant Police Chief pockets money from tickets

Cotton Plant Police Chief Bobby Burnett was arrested in June 2016 and charged with two felonies.


Burnett was arrested after a year long investigation and audit.

Cotton Plant resident Ruth Floyd had been giving Burnett money to pay off fines her son owed.  Official records did not reflect credit for the cash payments made by Floyd to Burnett.

To make matters worse, Burnett was fired and it was discovered that the only remaining officer did not possess the required certifications and was fired as well. It's not the towns first experience with certification issues (see item #4).

You might be asking yourself why would they have a non-certified officer?

Take a look at the minutes from a city council meeting back in 2012. 





 
************

(3)  Cotton Plant Mayor arrested for DWI

 
Ronnie Conley, the mayor of Cotton Plant was arrested by Arkansas State Police at 3:00 a.m. on September 6, 2015. 

Mayor Ronnie Conley admitted to a reporter for television station KATV that this wasn't the first time he's been arrested for DWI.


 
RONNIE CONLEY

Conley was booked at the Brinkley City Jail early on September 6th, arrested on charges of DWI, refusal to submit to tests, speeding, littering and drinking on the highway. 

He posted a $1,750 bond just hours later and got his car out of impound at  shortly after.


The vehicle Conley was driving was his city-issued white Crown Victoria with a green-stripe.


Conley stated, "I was taking care of city business as well."  But when asked if drinking on the job is city business he responded, "Well politicians have a tendency to drink all the time we have business. We have social affairs where we do drink of course."


In an interview with KATV, Conley admitted to being arrested for DWI while he was in college. 


Back in 2012, Conley was at the center of a recall vote to get him out of office. The recall organized by Concerned Citizens of Cotton Plant gathered more than 100 signatures for the recall - a large percentage of registered voters in the town of just under 700 people.The recall failed and Conley remained in office.


"Having a DWI is a whole lot different than having a recall," said Conley. "Those are not connected none whatsoever."



"It's a common thing that when we do go to conferences and things like that, we do drink," said Conley. "It was a stupid mistake and I'll live up to and take my responsibilities."


************

(4) Ex- Wife Of Police Chief Awarded $60K In Civil Rights Suit

In June 2007, A federal jury awarded the ex-wife of the Cotton Plant police chief $60,000 in a civil rights lawsuit. 

The jury awarded Florence Nance, formerly Florence Roark, $60,000 in compensatory and punitive damages upon finding, after nine hours of deliberation, that the subordinate officer used excessive force to arrest her at the direction of her husband, Chief Archie Roark.

Nance, 56, testified in a federal trial in Little Rock that after church services on the morning of Jan. 16, 2005, she learned that her husband of 12 years, who was the pastor of the church as well as the town police chief, had been cheating on her with another woman.

Nance admittedly flew into a rage and told her husband she was going to confront the woman, according to testimony. She said she drove from her home in DeValls Bluff to Cotton Plant to confront the other woman at the woman's mother's house.

Nance testified that she stood outside the house while the other woman, Stephanie Hurchin, stood in the doorway. The two women shouted at each other as Hurchin's mother stood between them, Nance testified.

Suddenly, she said, she saw Officer Raymond Milton drive up in his patrol car. Milton was a noncertified auxiliary officer who was the only other officer on the two-man force.

Nance testified that she believes that Roark called Milton and gave him an order to stop her from confronting the woman. Roark, also 56, testified that he didn't call Milton, and that he later learned Milton had responded to a 911 call.

Although Roark suggested to jurors that his wife was out of control, leaving his subordinate officer no choice but to use force to subdue her, Nance claimed that Milton simply "accosted" her without reason. She said he pepper-sprayed her in the eyes, threw her to ground face first and then twisted her arm behind her as he handcuffed her and placed her in the patrol car.

Milton, who left the department last year and whose whereabouts remain unknown, did not attend the trial. Roark, who is not a lawyer, represented himself because the city said it could not afford to hire an attorney.

Mental health professionals testified that Nance had post-traumatic stress disorder, with recurring flashbacks of being attacked.

The jury of two men and nine women, including two therapists, ordered Roark and Milton to jointly pay Nance $10,000 for violating her civil rights during the arrest, which resulted in her being released at the police department without being charged. Another woman on the panel was excused during the trial for family reasons.

The jury also ordered the men to jointly pay Nance $5,000 for her state-law claims of assault, battery and false imprisonment.

Finally, the panel ordered Milton to pay Nance $30,000 in punitive damages, and ordered Roark to pay his ex-wife, as of May 2005, $15,000 in punitive damages.

*********** 

(5) Two Cotton Plant Police Officers killed