Ex-Capitol Police Chief criticizes Arkansas Secretary of State and supports opponents Lowery
Former Capitol Police Chief Darrell Hedden, in a letter to lawmakers, alleged that Secretary of State John Thurston was unable to take the lead, stating that he had been forced to identify an officer under his command without sufficient evidence to dismiss a wrongdoing.
Hedden sent a letter to various government officials Monday morning in support of State Representative Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, who competes with Thurston in the May 2022 primary.
[DOCUMENT: Letter from Darrell Hedden to state legislators » arkansasonline.com/831cap/]
The letter alleges that the former chief had to fire a Capitol police officer despite “proving” that a complaint against the officer was false, that he was essentially fired himself, and that Thurston was unable to lead .
“The lack of leadership and even presence during the riots that damaged the Arkansas state capitol sends a loud message that should not be ignored,” he said in the letter. “It shows the lack of character and integrity. The state of Arkansas deserves a person who is a trustworthy leader and is able to do people’s jobs effectively. “
Hedden said in his letter that he had worked for the Secretary of State for 28 years but had never seen an employee or himself treated with such contempt.
“He has never publicly denounced these events and expressed that they will not be tolerated,” he said. “John Thurston was basically a no-show.”
Last year, Little Rock Police Chiefs Keith Humphrey and Hedden exchanged barbs during testimony before the Senate and House committees on city, county and local affairs about their authorities’ handling of the demonstrations that followed in late May and early June the death of the Minneapolis man took place in George Floyd.
Hedden accused Humphrey’s agency of insufficient assistance over the weekend of May 30th when he said his officers felt their safety was threatened.
He compared the protests to “the Vietnam War in Little Rock, Arkansas”.
“When asked to testify before the Joint Committee on City, County and Local Affairs what had happened during the riot at the State Capitol, I was shocked that the Secretary of State was not there to assist his police. “And give an energetic response to what happened,” Hedden said in the letter. “After these events and the legislative session, I felt that my access to the man I called my boss was being deliberately restricted. I could feel that my time was coming to an end and that it was possible for a few others. “
Hedden said that on September 25, 2020, he was ordered to fire a Capitol police officer over the phone, despite believing there was no basis for the dismissal as there was no evidence from an anonymous complaint against the officer.
“I could clearly see that this officer was not given due process, nor did he have an opportunity to know the reasons for his termination,” he said in the letter.
Hedden said he knew his days as head of the Capitol Police were numbered shortly afterwards.
“I was told the administration wanted the police to go in a new direction and I would not go that direction,” he said. “Again I was refused a meeting with the Foreign Minister. This confirmed my belief that John Thurston himself had no leadership skills in leading his executives, no concern about fairness to his employees, or even the courage and willingness to listen to my concerns. “
Hedden called on lawmakers to assist Lowery in the upcoming Republican primary.
“Integrity must be brought back to the office of foreign minister,” he said.