Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced in mid-June the appointment of Geovanny Sarmiento, the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce’s Vice President of Community Engagement & Inclusion, to the Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas.
The role of the task force is to listen to concerns from representatives from law-enforcement and the community, and to recommend ways the commission can improve training, community policing, and accountability. The task force was established by an Executive Order and Proclamation from the Governor.
As part of the Chamber’s mission work, Sarmiento is responsible for championing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives to help remove barriers that prevent fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for minorities in Northwest Arkansas. His experience includes working with Rogers Police Chief Hayes Minor to address concerns with the Latino community. Sarmiento collaborates with community leaders and organizations such as schools and the police department to help them be more inclusive and build trust with minority residents.
“I’m honored that the Governor has confidence in me to represent the growing diversity in Northwest Arkansas and the State of Arkansas”, said Sarmiento. “I look forward to listening to the voices of our community and expressing their concerns as we meet to formulate recommendations for the Governor.”
The task force will study and analyze the best practices for recruiting, training, and maintaining law enforcement officers in Arkansas. It will make recommendations to the Governor on enhancing trust between law enforcement and communities, and improvements or changes needed to enhance the profession of law enforcement to ensure compliance with standards.
Sarmiento attended the first task force meeting on June 18 at the United States Marshals Museum in Fort Smith. Governor Hutchinson welcomed the task force and charged it with the following:
1. Review the adequacy of law enforcement training, policy, and operations, specifically related to cultural, racial, and community relations.
2. Study and analyze the processes for accountability, discipline, removal, and decertification of officers who do not meet standards, including an evaluation for the creation and implementation of a statewide, public database of complaints and resolutions concerning law enforcement officers.
3. Study and analyze the standards, requirements, and obstacles for recruitment, hiring, and retention of law enforcement officers, including resiliency programs, educational opportunities, and compensation and benefit packages available to law enforcement officers.
4. Recommendations to enhance trust between law enforcement and communities.
5. Recommendations for improvements or changes needed to enhance the profession of law enforcement to ensure compliance with standards.
Governor Hutchinson said, "This is not going to be a static task force. It's going to be dynamic. It's going to be listening to the community. It's going to be addressing the serious issues that we've seen reflected across the country."
The task force will make its final recommendations to Governor Hutchinson by December 31, 2020. The work of the task force will be concluded upon submission of that final report.