Tim Campbell, who recently completed his first year of academic work at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, has been announced as a member of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas. The group will review Arkansas' standards for police training and operations, community policing, and the disciplinary process for officers who violate protocol.
Campbell was appointed to the task force after establishing himself as one of the leaders in Arkansas’ local protests that arose from the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others. He met with Governor Hutchinson twice before being selected to the task force, once with a small group of protesters that included Oya the Poet and Drekkia Writes on Monday, June 1, and again with a larger group on Friday, June 5. Among Campbell’s topics of conversation with the governor were community policing and a citizen review board for police training manuals.
“On Friday, when Governor Hutchinson met with all of the community leaders and protest organizations, he mentioned that he was going to put this together, this committee, and he would select people from the 20 that were with him, and he kept his word,” Campbell said.
Campbell is joined on the task force by one other activist from Friday’s group, Jimmy Warren of Conway, Ark. Other task force members include Department of Public Safety Secretary Jami Cook, Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy Deputy Director Fred Witherspoon, Sheriffs’ Association Director Scott Bradley, Urban League of Arkansas CEO Scott Hamilton, Rosa Velazquez of the advocacy group Arkansas United, Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington, and Blytheville Mayor James Sanders.
Hutchinson said in his press conference that more members could be added between now and the end of the year when the group will issue a report with recommendations. The task force plans to start meeting as early as next week.
“The idea here is to bridge the gap between the community and the police,” Campbell said. “Especially minority-dominated communities that are over-policed or over-militarized in the sense of being dealt with and not necessarily being understood or valued.”
In a task force filled with lawyers, law enforcement officials, and government leaders, Campbell has the responsibility to represent the community.
“(Governor Hutchinson) chose people like me for the community reflection,” Campbell said. “I’m coming in more so to give that community outlook. I’m not a higher-up, I’m not in law enforcement in Arkansas, I’m just an everyday citizen.”
A native of Little Rock, Campbell became involved with the protests after videos surfaced of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25. He said he felt a responsibility, especially as a young black male, to mobilize and organize the community.
“When George Floyd was killed on Monday, by that Wednesday I was telling my girlfriend that I needed to do something,” Campbell said. “I told her, ‘I learned these techniques at the Clinton School, how to organize people, how to get people to learn for social change, I learned this, and I need to do something.’ I felt responsible. I felt like with my background in community development and community engagement in West Africa – if I can do it in another language and in 100-degree weather, why can’t I do it here? And so that was my push. I just felt responsible.”
Campbell said that, while there is still plenty of work to be done and progress to be made, he recognizes that this is a start. “It’s definitely baby steps,” he said. A graduate of Little Rock Central High School, Campbell said is learning more about the different roles that government can play in creating change. He feels best about bringing people together to express themselves in a peaceful way.
“The point of me being out here protesting with people is to give people an alley to express themselves in a healthy way and be comforted by people from their community,” Campbell said. “That’s important right now. You see that there are some people who are looting and they’re burning things up, and that’s not healthy expression. I take it upon myself to grant that space and that sort of avenue to vent for themselves in an organized way.”
Over the past two weeks, Campbell’s efforts have attracted media attention from Arkansas Times, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, FOX16, and KATV, among others. On Tuesday, he sat down for an hour-long interview with Arkansas Senator Kim Hammer on 101.1 FM The Answer.
Before enrolling at the Clinton School, Campbell graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff with a degree in health and wellness. After graduating from UAPB, he spent two-and-a-half years as a Peace Corps volunteer in The Gambia, where he served as a health education facilitator and was responsible for building the capacity of rural communities to incorporate sustainable practices related to health and nutrition.
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