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Caddo Valley police chief among 2022 Officers of the Year

ARKANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Tuesday hosted the 2022 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year awards and recognition luncheon at the Benton Event Center. There she announced Fort Smith Police Officer Robin Gaines and Hot Springs Police Officers Stephen Parrott and James Moore as the 2022 Law Enforcement Officers of the Year. Officer Gaines intervened in a domestic violence dispute, where he was seriously injured, which was pivotal to ending the tragic crime. Officer Parrott and Officer Moore were recognized for stopping a shooting after a high school graduation ceremony outside the Hot Springs Convention Center, ultimately saving countless lives.  

“Officer Gaines, Officer Parrott, and Officer Moore’s quick reaction and bravery halted extremely dangerous situations that easily could have turned into further tragedies,” said Rutledge. “Each of these winners sacrifice so much to protect our communities. I cannot thank our law enforcement officials and their families enough for all they do on a daily basis.” 

On October 17, 2021, Officer Gaines was dispatched to a disturbance with weapons call. When Officer Gaines arrived, he found Christofer Conner violently assaulting his fifteen-year-old son with a brick. Officer Gaines confronted Conner and ordered him to drop the brick and get on the ground. Conner began to walk toward a residence instead of following the commands, so Officer Gaines placed himself between Conner and the house. Conner initially complied, but suddenly lunged at Officer Gaines and stabbed him in the neck with a large knife.

During the extremely violent attack, Officer Gaines was forced to fire his duty weapon to defend himself which ultimately ended the attack. Critically wounded, Officer Gaines was rushed to the hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. Officer Gaines continues to recover from injuries he sustained that morning. The fifteen-year-old boy did not survive. Further investigation into the incident revealed that Conner had killed his girlfriend inside the residence he was walking towards when Officer Gaines intervened. A young juvenile was located inside the residence relatively unharmed. 

Fort Smith Police Chief Baker states, “Officer Gaines acted with heroism and bravery in the line of duty when confronted with extreme danger to his own life by a subject on a murderous rampage. His exemplary actions truly displayed the Guardian mindset all members of the Fort Smith Police Department strive to have.”

On May 12th, 2022 a large fight broke out across from the Hot Springs Convention Center following a high school graduation ceremony. Officer Stephen Parrott and Officer James Moore, among others, were dispatched to the scene.

As officers were physically breaking up and attempting to disperse the crowd, one suspect drew a handgun and fired into the mass of people striking and ultimately killing one man. Officers Parrott and Moore were both nearby and immediately took action by drawing their weapons and firing upon the suspect, striking him multiple times, causing him to cease shooting and flee on foot from the scene. The officers then chased the suspect through the crowd to a vehicle parked some distance away, later seeking medical treatment from a local hospital, leading to his apprehension.

As Hot Springs Assistant Chief Hrvatin states, “The heroic actions carried out by Officer Parrott and Officer Moore on that night potentially saved countless other victims from injury or death. Not only did they make the difficult decision to use deadly force, they did so without hesitation and without any due regard to their own safety.”

During the event, Rutledge also awarded the Dwayne Yarbrough Distinguished Service Award to Sergeant George Edelen of the Van Buren Police Department. The award honors the legacy of distinguished public servant, Dwayne “Big D” Yarbrough, for his contributions to youth education and involvement initiatives. Over the last six years, Sergeant Edelen has served as a school resource officer at Butterfield Trail Middle School. During that time, Sergeant Edelen has created various programs to bridge the divide between students and law enforcement. Sergeant Edelen began the ENAF—Everyone Needs A Friend program in response to the rise in youth suicide and accidental overdoses. The program provides all students with an opportunity to meet one-on-one with Sergeant Edelen to learn life skills, inspire volunteerism and help students realize their own potential.

Van Buren Police Chief Jamie Hammond remarked, “We do not get many chances to make positive impressions on our youth, so we are lucky to have had people like ‘Big D’ make those positive impacts, and now Sergeant Edelen to carry on Big D’s legacy.”

Rutledge also presented Valor Tributes, which are given in honor of members of the law enforcement community who tragically lost their lives while in the line of duty as well as COVID-19. This year’s tributes were presented to Officer Gary Bean, Sergeant Joshua Caudell, Officer Vincent Parks, Senior Corporal Michael Springer, Sergeant William Shibley and Officer Jeremiah Story.

2022 Officer of the Year winners

Arkansas County
Trooper Martino Green, Arkansas State Police

Ashley County
Trooper Charles (Ross) Allen, Arkansas State Police

Baxter County
Corporal Britt Clements, Arkansas State Police

Benton County
Trooper Zenda Staab, Arkansas State Police

Boone County
Corporal Wade Grayson and Officer Brandon Motley, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Bradley County
Corporal Byron Curry, Arkansas State Police

Calhoun County
Trooper Justin Harper, Arkansas State Police

Carroll County
Officer Pauline Knott, Berryville Police Department

Chicot County
Trooper Christian Morphis, Arkansas State Police

Clark County
Chief Aaron Collier, Caddo Valley Police Department

Caddo Valley Police Chief Aaron Collier holds an award proclaiming his as Clark County’s 2022 Officer of the Year. | Courtesy photo

Collier was nominated as Officer of the Year by Sheriff Jason Watson and Arkadelphia Police Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson. Watson said Collier was nominated based on his work ethic. “He’s always on duty whether he’s in a patrol car or not,” Watson said. “He’s well-deserving of this award.”

Jackson added the Arkadelphia Police Department has worked closely with Collier and the Caddo Valley Police Department. “We have seen repeatedly his willingness to go above and beyond for not only Caddo Valley’s citizens but all of our communities,” Jackson said. “He is most deserving of this recognition and it was our pleasure to nominate him.”

Clay County
Corporal Michael Tompkins, Arkansas State Police

Cleburne County
Deputy Nathan McClain and Sergeant Chris Gracey, Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office

Cleveland County
Corporal Greg Rowland, Arkansas State Police

Columbia County
Agent George Barnes, Arkansas Department of Community Corrections

Conway County
Trooper First Class Deston Linkous, Arkansas State Police

Craighead County
Corporal Anthony Maggitt, Arkansas State Police

Crawford County
Wildlife Officer Kurt VanMatre, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Crittenden County
Trooper Spencer Morris, Arkansas State Police

Cross County
Trooper Tanner Hess, Arkansas State Police

Dallas County
Trooper Jimmy Plyler Jr., Arkansas State Police

Desha County
Senior Corporal Mitch Grant, Arkansas State Police

Drew County
Trooper Tyler Grant, Arkansas State Police

Faulkner County
Trooper Ronnie Grace, Arkansas State Police

Franklin County
Trooper James Ray, Arkansas State Police

Fulton County
Trooper Jason Long, Arkansas State Police

Garland County
Officers James Moore and Stephen Parrott, Hot Springs Police Department

Greene County
Corporal Todd Harris, Arkansas State Police

Hempstead County
Corporal Justin Dean, Hope Police Department

Hot Spring County
Corporal William Whisenhunt, Arkansas Department of Corrections

Howard County
Officer Ashanti Burris, Arkansas Department of Community Corrections

Independence County (TIE)
Agent Melissa Stephens, Arkansas Department of Community Corrections
Corporal Brandon Trewyn, Arkansas State Police

Izard County
Corporal Ryan Warner, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Jackson County
Corporal Dustin Smith, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Jefferson County
Sergeant Tasha Clark, Arkansas Department of Corrections

Johnson County
Wildlife Officer Kirk Turner, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Lafayette County
Trooper Jordan Drake, Arkansas State Police

Lawrence County
Trooper Brady Bates, Arkansas State Police

Lee County
Trooper Tate Ledbetter, Arkansas State Police

Lincoln County
Sergeant Freddie Childs, Arkansas Department of Corrections

Little River County
Trooper First Class Joshua Broughton and Trooper Ian Nelson, Arkansas State Police

Logan County
Corporal Jed Bolyard, Arkansas State Police

Lonoke County
Corporal Jason Dooley, Arkansas State Police

Madison County
Corporal Jana Cordes, Arkansas State Police

Marion County
Trooper Matt Sanford, Arkansas State Police

Miller County (TIE)
Sergeant Kyle Caudle, Texarkana Police Department
Corporal Jay Thomas, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Mississippi County
Officer Michael Dannar, Blytheville Police Department

Monroe County
Corporal Damon Dobson, Arkansas State Police

Montgomery County
Trooper First Class Michael Summitt, Arkansas State Police

Nevada County
Trooper Robert Neese, Arkansas State Police

Newton County
Agent Jeffery Baumgardner, Arkansas Department of Community Corrections

Ouachita County
The late Deputy Parker Cox, Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office

Perry County
Deputy Terry Payne, Perry County Sheriff’s Office

Phillips County
Trooper Dairren Evans, Arkansas State Police

Pike County
Trooper Seth Smedley, Arkansas State Police

Poinsett County
Deputy Kevin Molder, Poinsett County Sheriff’s Office

Polk County
Corporal Bo Hayes, Arkansas State Police

Pope County
Sergeant David Bevis, Russellville Police Department

Prairie County
Corporal Scott Troy, Arkansas State Police

Pulaski County
Detective Roy Williams, Little Rock Police Department

Randolph County
Officer Terry Tribble, Pocahontas Police Department

St. Francis County
Corporal Jason Martin, Trooper Heath Gurley, Detective Eric Varner, Arkansas State Police

Saline County
Chief Carl Minden, Bryant Police Department

Scott County
Special Agent Corey Mendenhall, Arkansas State Police

Searcy County
Corporal Buster Rinks, Arkansas State Police

Sebastian County
Officer Robin Gaines, Fort Smith Police Department

Sevier County (TIE)
Corporal Ernesto Echevarria, Arkansas State Police
Wildlife Officer Tyler Hill, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Sharp County
Chief Shane Russell, Highland Police Department

Stone County
Agent Kenny Kendrick, Arkansas Department of Community Corrections

Union County
Trooper Trevoris Tatum, Arkansas State Police

Van Buren County
Officer Timothy Baker, Clinton Police Department

Washington County
Captain Jeff Taylor, Springdale Police Department

White County
Corporal Mike McNeill, Arkansas State Police

Woodruff County
Chief Deputy James Dunham, Woodruff County Sheriff’s Office

Yell County
Trooper First Class Brandon Bird, Arkansas State Police

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