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NORTHEAST ARKANSAS STATE TROOPERS SHARE TOP HONOR,  OTHERS RECOGNIZED AT ARKANSAS STATE POLICE AWARDS CEREMONY

May 22, 2019

   (LITTLE ROCK) – Corporals Rockey Rapert of Harrisburg and Brandon Bennett of Blytheville were presented the prestigious Arkansas State Trooper of the Year Award today during the annual state police awards ceremony.  The recipient of the Trooper of the Year Award personifies the highest standards of public service and has demonstrates a record of esteemed law enforcement action.

   The two troopers were among a group of more than 33 Arkansas State Police personnel recognized for their personal sacrifice during the course of a particular assignment, or cumulative work results, associated with incidents during the 2018 calendar year.

   During his keynote address to state troopers attending today’s award ceremony, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced his intentions to release $4-millon dollars in state funds that will be used in the construction of the Arkansas law enforcement driver training track.  The track, to be located at Camp Robinson will be available to all Arkansas law enforcement agencies.  Arkansas is one of only a small number of states without a track facility to train law enforcement officers in emergency driving techniques.

   “Equipping our police officers with the skills to drive safely in all situations is as important as teaching self-defense or training them in the use of firearms,” said Governor Hutchinson. “This driving track will allow the state to train officers in everything from driving in bad weather to the often risky, but sometimes necessary, high-speed pursuits. I am pleased to release this money so that we reduce the risks for these public servants who risk their lives for the rest of us every time they put on the uniform.”

   Corporals Rapert and Bennett were also awarded the department’s Troopers Cross.  The nominations, Trooper of the Year and Troopers Cross, were both based on a July 30, 2018 deadly shootout in Mississippi County along I-55.

   A suspect who had refused to comply with a traffic stop abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot into a farm field where he shot and killed “Hemi”, an Arkansas State Police K9, assigned to Corporal Rapert, who along with the K9 and Corporal Bennett had trailed the suspect.

   The suspect then refused repeated orders from the troopers to drop his gun and turned toward them pointing the gun.  The troopers fired and wounded the suspect.  As law enforcement officers approached the wounded suspect, he rose again, pointing the gun at them and was shot.  He later died at an area hospital.

   All departmental awards, other than Official Commendations, were presented today by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson & Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police.

   Georgia Whatley, 54, of Benton, was awarded the Arkansas State Police Civilian Employee of the Year Award.  She has served the State of Arkansas as an employee for 21 years.

   Ms. Whatley was recognized specifically for her extraordinary work on an assignment, beginning in 2018, devoted to the implementation of new administration and human resources software (EASE) now used in all divisions and offices of the Arkansas State Police.

   Michael Patterson, assigned to the Highway Patrol Division administrative offices, Caitlin Teague, assigned to the Administrative Services Division, Training Section, and Karen Calaway, assigned to the department’s Fiscal Section, Asset Management and Inventory Unit were the other employees nominated for the civilian award.

  Other award recipients recognized today are:

   Lifesaving:

 

Trooper Christopher Barnett, of Batesville, assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, who on August 4, 2018, responded to a motor vehicle crash along U.S. Highway 67 near Searcy where he discovered a victim who was in critical condition and in a shock from a significant blood loss.  Trooper Barnett used a state police trauma kit to begin life saving measures using tourniquets to stop the bleeding.  The trooper’s action, according to physicians, saved the crash victim’s life.

 

Trooper Corey Earls, of Clarksville, assigned to the Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, who on April 30, 2018, recognized the deteriorating medical condition of a crash victim and quickly determined the driver was exhibiting symptoms of a drug overdose.  Trooper Earls used a supply of Narcan, provided to troopers by the Arkansas State Police, to save the woman’s life and on August 13, 2018 after discovering a shooting victim in the backyard of a Morrilton residence began applying tourniquets to the arm and leg of the victim, saving the man’s life.

 

Corporal Todd Harris, of Paragould, assigned to the Highway Patrol Division, Troop C, who on August 24, 2018, responded to a motor vehicle crash and coordinated the rescue of an injured victim, then used a state police trauma kit to begin life saving measures which continued until emergency medical personnel arrived at the scene.

 

Corporal Ronald Laslo, of Newark, assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop B, who on May 22, 2018, began providing life saving measures to a suicide victim found in a rural part of Jackson County.  Using a state police trauma kit, Corporal Laslo was able to keep the victim alive until emergency medical personnel arrived at the scene.

 

Trooper First Class Terry Sawyer, of Malvern, assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop K, who on October 11, 2018, responded to a shooting incident along U.S. Highway 270 and discovered a wounded victim.  TFC Sawyer used his state police trauma kit to apply a tourniquet to the wounded limb of the victim and stabilize the man until emergency medical personnel arrived at the scene.

 

Corporal Brian Syfert, of Clarksville, assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, who on December 15, 2018, saved the life of a motor vehicle crash victim by using a state police trauma kit to stop the bleeding of the victim whose leg had been severed during the crash.

 

Corporal Flarcell Tate, of Marion, assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, who on February 9, 2018, who came to the aid of a female passenger traveling along I-40 when she entered labor and discovered the newborn child was not breathing.  Corporal Tate used his training to repeatedly apply lifesaving measures eventually leading to the child to breathe and survive.

   Distinguished Meritorious Service Awards:

 

Lieutenant Chris Goodman, of Clarksville, assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop J, who was recognized for work in highway narcotics interdiction during 2016 – 2018.  Lieutenant Goodman, during 2018, is credited with seizing more than 2,500 pounds of marijuana and 20 pounds of cocaine.  His work prior to 2018 includes 165 felony arrests associated with the seizure of thousands of pounds of illegal drugs being transported along Arkansas highways.

 

Medal of Valor:

 

Sergeant Philip Hydron, of Marion, assigned to Highway Patrol Troop D, Corporal Chad Staley of Little Rock, assigned to Administrative Services Division, Training Section and Trooper First Class Clayton McDonald, of Little Rock, assigned to Highway Patrol Division, Troop A, were each presented the Arkansas State Police Medal of Valor.  The three were recognized for the assignments as members of the Arkansas State Police SWAT team which responded to Russellville on June 28, 2018.

The three state troopers were among the SWAT team members who entered a barricaded apartment after an individual inside had earlier threaten local police office.  As troopers entered they were met with gunfire from the suspect who died as the result of gunfire returned by the troopers.

 

Troopers Cross:

 

Trooper First Class Jason Baethke, of Mount Judea (Newton County) who on October 9, 2018 used lethal force to protect members of the Arkansas State Police SWAT team as they approached a suspect who was about to exit a residence in Arkansas County where a prolonged armed stand-off with a suspect had continued late into the night and the following morning.  The suspect opened the door of a camper trailer, raised his gun at the approaching state troopers and was shot by TFC Baethke who was positioned along the stand-off perimeter. 

 

Memorial Medal Award:

 

Sergeant K9 Hemi was honored with the Arkansas State Police Memorial Medal for his in line of duty death.  The medal was presented to Hemi’s partner, Corporal Rockey Rapert. (*See narrative comments from the Trooper of the Year Award.)  

   Official Commendations: (Presented for acts of exemplary service and awarded during the course of 2018 during regular monthly meetings of the Arkansas State Police Commission.  *Supporting information is available upon request.)

 

Special Agent Jake Bartlett, of Russellville, Criminal Investigation Division, Company E

 

Troop John Bass, of Waldron, Highway Patrol Division, Troop H

 

Special Agent Stephen Briggs, of Little Rock, Criminal Investigation Division, Special Investigations Unit

 

Special Agent Scott Ellis, of Paron, Director’s Office, Executive Protection Unit

 

Trooper Josh Elmore, of Van Buren, Highway Patrol Division, Troop H

 

Special Agent Josh Heckel, of Hot Springs, Criminal Investigation Division, Company D

 

Trooper First Class Ryan Leuer, of Farmington, Highway Patrol Division, Troop L

 

Sergeant Elvis Mull, of Little Rock, Highway Patrol Division, Troop A

 

Corporal Brandon Love, of Little Rock, Highway Patrol Division, Troop A

 

Special Agent Randall Murphy, of McCrory, Criminal Investigation Division, Company A

 

Keri Permenter, of Malvern, Criminal Investigation Division, Arkansas State Fusion Center

 

Chris Carter, of North Little Rock, Criminal Investigation Division, Arkansas State Fusion Center

 

Special Agent Kevin Webb, of Benton, Criminal Investigation Division, Company A

   Distinguished Service Awards: (Presented to ten law enforcement officers from departments other than the Arkansas State Police, and non-department civilians who collectively or individually came to the assistance of Arkansas State Troopers. *Supporting information is available upon request.)

 Jason Bourg, Mountain Home

 

Deputy Jimmy Huffstetler, of Paragould, Greene County Sheriff’s Department

 

Chris Davis, of Everton (Boone County).

 

Sergeant Keith Prince, of Malvern, Malvern Police Department

 

Corporal Jack Seely, of Malvern, Malvern Police Department

 

Deputy Jeremy Bray, of Malvern, Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Department

 

Patrolman Brian Douglas, of Rockport (Hot Spring County), Rockport Police Department

 

Deputy Harrison Hughes, of Blytheville, Mississippi County Sheriff’s Department

 

Beverly Thornton, of Maumelle

 

Randall Woodall, of Maumelle

 

Harold W. Cantwell, of Jacksonville