Arkansas lawmaker calls for changes after police encounter

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A black Arkansas lawmaker plans to introduce legislation next year aimed at changing police tactics after officers drew guns on her and another black politician who had called 911 to report that they were being harassed.

Democratic state Rep. Vivian Flowers, from Pine Bluff, said the planned legislation would address the use of police body-cameras; police increasingly collecting data; penalties for filing false police reports; and creating limits to police use of force.

At a news conference Monday, Flowers recalled the Feb. 3 incident outside of a Little Rock fundraiser for state House candidate Ryan Davis, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Flowers and Davis said they were talking to each other on the sidewalk when two white residents questioned why the two politicians were in the neighborhood.

They and one of the residents told police that they then heard a gunshot. The resident also confirmed that she had yelled at the two politicians to leave and that she subsequently told them to “drop dead.”

Officers arrived with their guns drawn on Davis and Flowers, according to a police report.

While Flowers said she believes officers acted “professionally,” she noted that the experience sparked her desire to address policing. Flowers said both white and black officers responded to their 911 call.

“It might be that this is their protocol, and that might need to be changed,” Flower said.

Police have not made any arrests.

Flowers said she would likely wait until closer to next year’s legislative session to start drafting her bills.

Davis, who is seeking his first term in the House, added that he also would push for legislation on those topics if elected.

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