HOWARD COUNTY, ARKANSAS — As of the 2010 census, Dierks, Arkansas boasted a population of 1,133 people, down from 1,230 ten years prior. The small municipality had an equally cozy police force, consisting of three full time and two part-time officers.
In early-June 2018, the entire Dierks Police Department was temporarily suspended after the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards notified the city that their law enforcement agency of five had not met required range standards, nor completed a required racial profiling class. At the time, Chief James Brian White — who goes by his middle name — stated “We took a couple of days to do some in house training that we let ourselves get behind on, but it’s been taken care of.”
Less than two years later, Dierks Chief of Police Brian White resigned from his position after the Arkansas State Police arrested him in his own backyard.
On April 4, 2021 at 10:02 a.m., Arkansas State Police Trooper Darren Henley was requested by Howard County Sheriff’s Department to respond to a single vehicle collision at the
intersection of Green Plains Road and US-278. Henley was told
that the driver of the accident vehicle was the Chief of the Dierks Police Department, James White. While en route, Henley received an update: White had left the scene, driving the vehicle that was previously involved in the collision. Also known as his patrol vehicle.
Multiple police units followed White back to his house, where White drove behind his house and into the woods. Shortly thereafter, dispatch advised Trooper Henley that a “Deputy Quick” had the chief of police detained.
White’s preliminary breath test sample returned a healthy .24% BAC, otherwise known as three times the per se limit. And Dierks Chief of Police James White was arrested for driving while intoxicated. At the Howard County Detention Facility, White
submitted to additional requested testing. His final BAC result was .21%. Earlier today we called the Howard County Sheriff’s Office seeking additional information and White’s booking photo. If you are reading this, we are waiting for a return call. (Notably, White’s booking photo is a public record, and our Arkansas business license provides us with a right to access it. Still waiting.)
While we are on the subject of DUI arrests, let’s circle back to Keith Ingersoll, of “Drunk Driving the Rolls Royce” fame. When we left off, the question we posed was how a politically-connected multimillionaire was accepted into a diversion program that he was likely ineligible for.
First, some background: it may come as a surprise to learn that government agencies are generally not required to answer questions or produce information. The only thing agencies have to produce is nonexempt public records, in response to a request and the payment of any fees due.
And on the records front, it’s unfortunately still early. Pretrial diversion put Ingersoll’s prosecution on pause, which means that his 2020 DUI case is still open. Consequently, records that could explain Ingersoll’s acceptance into diversion remain exempt.
But I did manage to confirm my suspicion. There is no way that he was eligible.
“In order to be eligible for either tier the defendant must meet the following general criteria: * * * #4. The defendant must not have been involved in a crash in the instant case.”
If you are thinking “Maybe the State Attorney’s Office defines “crash” in a weird way,” you nailed it. They interpret the term more expansively than usual. They have also defined the term in relation to diversion eligibility.
Verbatim: A “crash” certainly includes… (c). Hitting someone else’s vehicle.
I have a copy of the crash report associated with Ingersoll’s arrest. Ingersoll was charged with one count DUI With Property Damage. There was definitely a crash.
It took some nagging, but SAO spokesperson Keisha Mulfort eventually told me that she would “reach out to the assigned ASA” and get back to me.
That was five weeks ago. Their silence is loud.
State Attorney Worrell:
Keith Ingersoll is a politically-connected multimillionaire who spent much of his DUI arrest informing officers that they were going to regret arresting him. The crash report associated with Ingersoll’s arrest reflects thousands of dollars in property damage. Why was Keith Ingersoll accepted into a diversion program that he is ineligible for?
Not holding my breath.
But once the records are no longer exempt, they’re mine. And they’re yours.
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