Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TOP STORY >> Local police mourning comrades

Leader staff writer

So far, it has been a summer of unprecedented violence, but local law-enforcement officers and other government officials are standing with their brothers and sisters in blue—and mourning those who paid the ultimate price in the line of duty.

It was nearly two weeks ago that millions watched in horror as events near Dallas’ Daly Plaza unfolded. A shooter took aim at the Dallas police officers who were protecting Black Lives Matters protesters.

Even as a hail of bullets rained down that Thursday night, officers ushered protectors and others to safety—there were reports of heroism, like officers surrounding and shielding one civilian, who had already taken a bullet to her leg, from taking even more gunfire.

They managed to get Shetamia Taylor into a car while under direct fire and to a nearby hospital.

It was reported that the police cars rolled in again and again into emergency bays that night, running on rims and riddled with bullet holes. By the time the sun rose Friday morning, five Dallas officers were dead and another nine were wounded. The shooter lay dead in a parking garage.

In a few short hours on July 7, the department lost Dallas police Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Krol, Sgt. Michael Smith, Officer Patrick Zamarripa, and DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) Officer Brent Thompson.

Before the Dallas Police Department and the country could finish paying their respects to the officers, Baton Rouge Police Department officers came under fire on July 17.

There, three officers were killed and another three were wounded. Like in Dallas, the shooter had a military background and was killed by officers.

The dead Baton Rouge Police Department officers included Montrell Jackson, Brad Garafola and Matthew Gerald.


In light of the murder of the Dallas area police officers, Sheriff Doc Holladay stated, “On behalf of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Pulaski County, we offer our sincere condolences to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Police Department and the Dallas Police Department in the loss of their officers. These officers gave their lives doing what they were called to do and we as a community must support their families and those of law enforcement officers throughout this great nation.”


Mayor Gary Fletcher said he is in constant contact with the city’s Chief of Police Kenny Boyd.

“It’s a dangerous job and I am concerned about our officers’ safety and their mental mindset, as well as that of their families. This was a lawless event done in the name of justice. We have to remember to honor the heroes and not glorify the bad guys,” Fletcher said.

The Jacksonville police chief released this statement to the community:

“First and foremost, our hearts and prayers go out to the Baton Rouge Police Department and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Department. The Law Enforcement Family has taken a big hit these past few weeks.

“The Jacksonville Police Department has been overwhelmed with support from our community. The phone calls, comments, and just genuine display of kindness that we have received from the citizens of Jacksonville have been tremendous.

The Jacksonville Police Department has internally increased our outreach for our officers along with their families utilizing several resources. I will not discuss any changes that we have or have not made to protocol for the safety of our officers.

“We are on heightened alert and will continue to provide our citizens with the protection and service that they are accustomed to and that they deserve. Please continue to keep the first responders across this nation in your thoughts and prayers. I encourage any citizen of Jacksonville to please contact me if they should have any questions regarding the officers or Jacksonville Police Department.”


The Jacksonville Police Department offers many programs throughout the year that encourages residents to be involved and get to know the officers. The Citizen Police Academy is one of those opportunities to learn firsthand the day-to-day operations of the Police Department.

The eight-week program showcases the different aspects of law enforcement including community policing, criminal investigations, patrol duties, use of force and more.

Anyone interested in applying for the program must be able to pass a background check, have no felony convictions, have no misdemeanor convictions for one year and live or work within the Jacksonville city limits.

For more information, call JPD Officer J. Boyd at 501- 982-3191.

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce is hosting a civilian Active Shooter Seminar from 8 a.m. until noon Tuesday. For more information, call 501-982-1511.


“The Jacksonville Citizens Police Alumni is praying everyday for the families of the fallen Dallas, Baton Rouge and other fallen police officers. We are standing by the Jacksonville Police Department and their families. We believe we have the best officers in the world,” a spokesman for the group said.


A Sherwood Police Department spokesman said, “It’s sad that it happened and we just hope that nothing else happens. Our prayers and thoughts go out the families of those officers and all the people effected by those incidents.”

The Sherwood Police Department has a variety of outreach programs, including one designed for kids, that can be found on its website, wwwsherwoodpolice.org. For more information, call Keith Wilson at 501-833-3568.


Lonoke Police Chief Patrick Mulligan said, “It saddens all of us in Lonoke and raises our awareness of how dangerous our jobs can be. It’s unfortunate it happened and those officers are on our minds, in our hearts and in our prayers.”

Around the department, Mulligan said his officers are talking about the recent events and that their families are deeply concerned. He has a son who works at the Sherwood Police Department and a second son that serves on the Cabot Police Department.

Still, he said, “We’re here to serve and represent the citizens and treat them well. We have a job to do but at the end of the day, we want to go home.”

For now and in light of recent events, the Lonoke Police Department has suspended its Ride Along Program.


Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley said, “There are no words that can express our grief. Our country’s law enforcement officers are being targeted and ambushed. We are a family, and we have to be vigilant and work together.”

In Lonoke County, Staley said there have been no credible threats and the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office will “continue to do its job to the best of our ability every single day.”

The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office offers a ride- along program for county residents who are interested. However, all applicants must pass a background and meet other requirements before acceptance to the program.


Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain said, “It’s heartbreaking and it’s devastating and everyone in the Austin city government and at the Austin Police Department feel the loss.”

Austin Police Chief James Kulesa said, “When something happens like the recent events, it impacts officers anywhere. There are no words to describe these tragedies.”


Ward Mayor Mayor Art Brooke said the entire community is saddened by the tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge.