MARION, Ark. — It was an unusual sight at Marion City Council as nearly 60 people filled the room Tuesday night.
Many of the residents called for transparency from their city government and police after the state launched an investigation surrounding a Marion police officer.
“Usually we have one or two citizens, maybe,” councilman Kelly O’Neal said.
O’Neal has an idea of what sparked the turnout. “People are tired.”
The councilman says they’re tired of not getting answers from their elected officials. Especially when it comes to crime.
“I had a shooting around the corner from my home. Nine casings were found. Not one word has been mentioned,” resident Renee Conrad said.
“I’m fearful in the daytime now in Marion,” resident Stephanie Dostal said.
Councilman O’Neal said hearing what residents had to say at the meeting was “very troubling.”
What’s also troubling is police are remaining tight-lipped on a recent internal investigation. It took days for the chief to respond after we asked about an officer who was under criminal investigation.
And after that, all Chief Gary Kelley would say was that an officer who was being investigated for criminal activity had been suspended. And the matter was referred to Arkansas State Police.
When we tried to ask more about it on Tuesday, Chief Kelley said, “I’ve given all the information I’m going to give on that until the investigation is complete.”
We also asked about community members’ concerns of not hearing about crimes taking place.
The chief said his department sends report information to the local newspaper every week. However, the paper recently released an article saying it’s constantly denied access to crime reports and is repeatedly told nothing of any significance is going on.
Our luck wasn’t any better with Mayor Frank Fogleman, who posted on social media after being re-elected he’d work on keeping the community informed.
Many residents complain that hasn’t happened.
When asked for his response to residents calling for transparency, the mayor told WREG, “I don’t talk on camera. I’ll talk to individuals, but not on cameras.”
When asked why the Marion Police Department doesn’t post their reports on Facebook where people can see them, the chief said they just don’t and don’t have time for it.