Police & Fire

Would-be police chief retires amid sex scandal

By JOEL PHELPS | The Arkadelphian

More details have emerged in what led to a last-minute decision for an incoming police chief to retire his badge.

Roy Bethell had been tapped to lead the Caddo Valley Police Department as its chief of police, but he would change his mind shortly before he was set to take office, and retire from law enforcement. The 50-year-old career lawman from Arkadelphia found himself the target of yet another police investigation, albeit short-lived, when a report of a trespasser sent authorities to check on a property in the community he was to serve.

Bethell was in a vehicle that was reported as suspicious, parked at a residence just outside the Caddo Valley city limits. Information obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that two law enforcement officers responded to a report of two trespassers at Hideaway Lane on Wednesday, July 5.

Hideaway Lane, as shown in the southern portion of this map, is on the outskirts of Caddo Valley’s city limits. | Google Maps

The complaint was from an out-of-state caller who has real-time cameras recording the property. The caller notified a sheriff’s office dispatcher that there was a couple in an SUV who were “disrobed and having sex.” According to the dispatch call detail, Deputy Michael Lesher was the first to arrive on scene, at 10:48 a.m. Chief Collier arrived 11 minutes later. The dispatcher noted the scene was cleared at 11:18 a.m.

The newspaper also requested police body camera footage of any Caddo Valley officer’s response to Hideaway Lane or any police activity during that timeframe. The chief responded in an email that there was no footage available. While officers in Caddo Valley wear body cameras, sheriff’s deputies in Clark County are not equipped with them. Collier said there is no body camera footage because he did not establish contact with anyone at the scene. “I didn’t do any investigation or interact with anybody to investigate,” Collier said in a telephone interview. “It was already done when I got there.”

Collier did confirm that he saw Bethell but did not speak to him. According to Collier, the county officer was dispatched because the address is technically outside the city limits, but Caddo Valley officers were requested if one was near the address. Collier said he was at first unable to locate the Hideaway Lane address, and that his GPS led him to an area on Highway 7. Collier said he saw the responding deputy pass by and heard him on police radio check in at the scene, and that he would later find the driveway that led to the residence.

“By the time I was driving down the road, [Deputy Lesher] and the other vehicle [Bethell was in] was leaving out, and that’s it,” Collier said, adding he turned around at the end of the driveway and left. “I didn’t talk to him,” Collier said. “I saw Roy when he was leaving out. I didn’t see anybody else, I didn’t see another man, I didn’t see another woman, another kid, and that’s all I can really say about it.”

A call to Deputy Lesher was referred to Sheriff Jason Watson, who provided this statement: “On the day in question the sheriff’s office received a 911 call to the address. A deputy was dispatched to the location. Once at scene the deputy made contact with Bethell who advised that he was family friends and had permission to be on the property. This was confirmed by law enforcement with the homeowner and no other action was taken.”

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