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April 17, 2008 (NORTH LITTLE ROCK) – Corporal Blake Wilson, 51, of Russellville was named the recipient today of the 2007 Arkansas State Trooper of the Year Award. Corporal Wilson is a 29-year veteran of the department and is assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop J. Corporal Wilson was also one of two Arkansas State Troopers today to receive the department’s Medal of Valor Award. The presentations were made during the annual Arkansas State Police Awards Ceremony and Luncheon held here today. The nomination of Corporal Wilson for the awards was based on his exhibited skillful negotiations during a prolonged hostage stand-off which played-out beginning during the early morning hours of October 31, 2007 outside the Choctaw, Arkansas (Van Buren County) Post Office. For more than 10 hours Corporal Wilson negotiated with a man holding a knife to the chest of the suspect’s four year-old daughter. The suspect was holding the child and her mother hostage inside a pick-up truck. At times during the negotiations the suspect used the child as a shield if he suspected officers might be moving too close. Shortly before nightfall as the suspect began to fatigue, Corporal Wilson was able to seize upon an opportunity to disarm the suspect as an Arkansas State Police SWAT officer moved-in and applied a TASER shock to the suspect. In connection with the same incident, Sergeant Bryan Davis, of Alma, assigned to the department’s Highway Patrol Division, Troop H, was awarded the Arkansas State Police Trooper’s Cross. The Trooper’s Cross is awarded to troopers and civilian employees who “demonstrate courage in the face of extreme danger.” It was Sergeant Davis who had been among an Arkansas State Police SWAT team deployed to the scene who moved into a position next to the truck should an opportunity arise to distract the suspect and safely remove the two hostages. Johnnie R. Davenport, 58, of Yellville, assigned to the department’s Crimes Against Children Division, was named the 2007 Civilian Employee of the Year. Davenport was recognized for her extraordinary accomplishments as a CACD Child Abuse Investigator and for her long tenure, dating back 20 years, fighting for the protection of innocent children who are victims of child maltreatment and abuse. While today Davenport serves in an area supervisory role, her work history in counties such as Carroll and Boone Counties are noteworthy in that the numbers of arrests and convictions are legendary. Davenport has continually demonstrated excellence in the performance of her duties while working for the State of Arkansas and has unselfishly performed public service above and beyond the call of duty while pursuing the protection of defenseless children. Among the other awards presented during today’s ceremonies: • Corporal Gregg Bray of Greenbrier – Medal of Valor Corporal Gregg Bray, assigned to the department’s Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, was awarded the Medal of Valor for his role in the April 13, 2007 apprehension of two bank robbers who had fled into a rural part of Faulkner County. During the course of a pursuit as Corporal Bray attempted to stop the robbers, gunfire from inside the suspect’s vehicle was directed at Corporal Bray who continued to follow the vehicle until the bandits were forced to abandon their vehicle and flee into a wooded area. Corporal Bray, determined to make the arrest, bravely followed the pair into the woods and was able to take one suspect into custody and later assist another officer in arresting the second suspect. • Special Agent Patrick Kirby of Benton – Trooper’s Cross Award On January 8, 2007, Special Agent Patrick Kirby assigned to the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, Company A, encountered a suspected prison escapee outside a southwest Little Rock business. While questioning the individual, the suspect attempted to flee from S/A Kirby in a van the suspect had acquired since the escape. S/A Kirby attempted to enter the driver’s side of the vehicle with the suspect and became briefly trapped as the suspect backed away striking the officer’s state police vehicle. S/A Kirby was able to free himself and draw his service weapon, firing at the driver, as the suspect accelerated the van in an attempt to run-over the officer. S/A Kirby was able to pursue the van in his damaged vehicle and follow it to a location where the suspect abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. S/A Kirby was able to take the suspect into custody as the escapee attempted to scale a residential neighborhood fence. • Corporal Richard Scott Baxter (retired), of Mabelvale – Gold Shield Award Corporal Scott Baxter sustained life threatening injuries on March 24, 2006 as he and other state troopers attempted to stop a fleeing fugitive driving a stolen truck. The driver of the truck rammed the vehicle into the side of Corporal Baxter’s patrol car. Corporal Baxter, who at the time of the pursuit was assigned to the department’s Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, remained hospitalized for several months and continues to recuperate today. On December 31, 2007 Corporal Baxter medically retired from the department. Corporal Baxter received the Gold Shield Award for his dedication and sacrifice to the Arkansas State Police and the citizens of Arkansas. • Corporal Olen Craig, of Greenwood – Distinguished Meritorious Service Award Corporal Craig, assigned to the department’s Highway Patrol Division, Troop H, was recognized for his drug interdiction patrol efforts which during 2007 netted more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, 75 pounds of cocaine, 5 pounds of heroin and in excess of $150,000 in suspected drug transaction currency. • Trooper Chris Goodman, of Russellville, – Distinguished Meritorious Service Award Trooper Goodman, assigned to the department’s Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, was recognized for his drug interdiction patrol efforts which during 2007 netted more than 6,000 pounds of marijuana, 205 pounds of cocaine, and more than $67,000 in suspected drug transaction currency. • Corporal George Summerlin, of Clarksville, - Distinguished Meritorious Service Award Corporal Summerlin, assigned to the department’s Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, was recognized for his drug interdiction patrol efforts which during the course of a single traffic stop netted more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana. • Loni Felterman, of Clarksville, - Distinguished Meritorious Service Award Loni Felterman has accumulated 29 years of service while assigned to the department’s Highway Patrol Division. Felterman began her career, at the time still as a teenager, hired in 1979 as a troop secretary in Fort Smith. She later transferred into the driver license examiner unit, but returned to troop secretary duties assigned to Troop J at Clarksville. Felterman has been honored with the award based on her career experience as an innovator in many of the troop office practices still currently used across the state. • Rod Cooper, of Arkadelphia – Distinguished Service Award On May, 5th 2007, Arkansas State Trooper Dale Donham initiated a traffic stop of an eastbound vehicle along Interstate 30 at the 107 mile marker. During the course of the stop and questioning the driver, Trooper Donham became suspicious of the driver and requested permission to conduct a vehicle search. As the search was underway the driver charged toward Trooper Donham and a struggle resulted as the trooper attempted to handcuff the driver. The suspect was able to break-free from Trooper Donham and began to flee on foot from the traffic stop scene. Several civilians had stopped along the highway and offered to call for assistance, but as Trooper Donham was attempting to catch-up to the suspect he witnessed a U.S. solider, later identified as 1st Lieutenant Rod Cooper, intercept and tackle the suspect to the ground. The assistance of Lieutenant Cooper, which clearly placed him in direct risk of physical harm, was invaluable, unselfish and deserving of recognition.