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Pete Penney Awarded State Trooper of the Year

May 21, 2013



Arkansas State Trooper of the Year Pete Penney
with Colonel Stan Witt (left) and Governor Mike Beebe
(Click on image for high resolution file)

May 21, 2013

Arkansas State Trooper (Corporal) Pete Penney, 38, of Nashville was presented with the Arkansas State Police Trooper of the Year Award today during the department’s annual awards ceremony.  Corporal Penney was also presented the department’s Medal of Valor.

  The recognition of Corporal Penney stems from a March 23, 2012 traffic stop involving a suspected drunk driver along U.S. Highway 278, north of Ozan (Hempstead County).

  Following a field sobriety test, Corporal Penney attempted to arrest the suspect who resisted and began to fight.  After several minutes of attempting to gain control of the suspect Corporal Penney radioed for assistance at which time the suspect returned to his car.  As Corporal Penney approached the car, the suspect reached out holding a white plastic bag which contained a revolver and fired into the trooper’s abdomen.

  Corporal Penney was able to return fire from his service weapon, wounding the suspect.

  Corporal Penney is a nine-year veteran of the department and continues to serve the department assigned to the Highway Patrol Division.

  Among the other awards presented today were:

•    Medal of Valor
     Sergeant Darran Austin, 36 of Dardanelle
     Highway Patrol Division, Troop J
     Special Agent Todd Shaw, 41, of Melbourne
     Criminal Investigation Division, Company E

  In the aftermath of an April 13, 2012 bank robbery in Paragould, a suspect fled from law enforcement officers and managed to enter a residence where he barricaded himself along with a female acquaintance.

  The Arkansas State Police SWAT responded to the stand-off situation which continued into the evening and early morning hours of the next day.

  At approximately 1:30 AM (April 14th) the suspect escaped from the residence through a hole he cut through the floor.  The suspect managed to move into a nearby wooded area where he was tracked by a law enforcement K-9 dog.

  Simultaneously a spotter inside the State Police helicopter hovering above the area spotted a heat signature on a forward-looking infrared camera.

  Shortly before 4 AM the aircraft spotter alerted Sergeant Austin and S/A Shaw who were moving through the thick woods where the suspect was believed to be hiding.

  As the troopers moved closer to the suspect he fired on Sergeant Austin causing both troopers to return fire killing the suspect.

•    Medal of Valor
     Sergeant Mark Johnson, 49, North Little Rock
     Highway Patrol Division, Troop A

  On October 18, 2012, Sergeant Mark Johnson became involved in a pursuit of a suspect wanted in connection with an attempted murder, kidnapping and auto theft.

  As the pursuit continued across Interstate 40 and onto a two-lane highway, Sergeant Johnson made the decision to execute a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) in an effort to stop the increasing threat the fugitive was causing as the fled from law enforcement officers.

  Moving into position with the right front of his patrol car to push the left rear bumper of the suspect vehicle, the suspect fired a shotgun blast at Sergeant Johnson who continued with the PIT maneuver forcing the suspect off the highway into an open field where the suspect surrendered.

•    Trooper’s Cross
     Corporal Michael Bowman, 42 of Van Buren
     Highway Patrol Division – Troop H

  On the evening of January 31, 2012, a murder was reported in Franklin County and law enforcement officers began to converge on Highway 219 north of Ozark.

  Corporal Michael Bowman was off-duty at Troop H headquarters in Fort Smith when he heard the radio call reporting a suspect had been identified and information was leading officers to begin searching in the Van Buren area.

  Being familiar with the local area, Corporal Bowman left headquarters and began to patrol one of the neighborhoods where the suspect was possibly headed in an attempt to hide from police.

  Corporal Bowman quickly encountered a vehicle pulling away from a residence in a reckless manner.  As Corporal Bowman activated his blue lights, the vehicle began to race toward the patrol car, causing a collision of both vehicles and two individuals from the suspect vehicle immediately fleeing the crash scene on foot.

  Corporal Bowman exited the patrol car and pursued the suspects taking both into custody.   The two individuals were later identified as the suspects in the earlier reported murder.

•    Distinguished Meritorious Service
     Corporal Christopher Goodman, 37, of Russellville
     Highway Patrol Division, Troop J

  Corporal Goodman was recognized for his drug interdiction patrol efforts which during the course of July – September 2012 seized 154 pounds of cocaine, 5.5 pounds of heroin and 176 pounds of marijuana.

  Total street value of the drugs was in excess of $6.75 million dollars.

•    Lifesaving Award
     Trooper First Class Terry Burdin, 36, of Rector
     Highway Patrol Division – Troop C

  On April 26, 2012 Trooper First Class Terry Burdin responded to a radio call from another trooper near Paragould.  A burglary suspect had fled from the trooper and was armed with a shotgun, threatening to commit suicide.

  As TFC Burdin approached the location the suspect shot himself, nearly severing an arm.

  TFC Burdin assessed the injuries and began to establish an oral airway as the suspect became unresponsive.  Bleeding was controlled using supplies from TFC Burdin’s medical bag.

  The suspect was flown to a Memphis Hospital where doctors later stated had it not been for the quick medical attention offered by TFC Burdin, the suspect would have died.

•    Lifesaving Award
     Corporal Wilson Short, 35, of Dardanelle
     Highway Patrol Division – Troop J

  On April 15, 2012, Corporal Wilson Short was dispatched to the Arkansas River Bridge near Dardanelle where an individual was reported to be threatening to take his life.

  Corporal Short had encountered the individual on previous occasions and was able to build a rapport by talking to the man and convincing him to move away from the bridge railing.

  Later, Corporal Short took the man to a nearby restaurant where the two ate a meal together, then transported him to a local social service to receive overnight accommodations.

•    Lifesaving Award
     Corporal Dustin Rogers, 43, of Evening Shade
     Highway Patrol Division – Troop B

  On April 12, 2012,at approximately 11:49 AM Corporal Dustin Rogers was advised by Sharp County authorities of a medical emergency in Evening Shade.

  An 80-year-old man had sustained a heart attack at his residence.  Corporal Rogers responded to the area and found several people standing over a man outside his home.

  After checking the victim for vital indicators and finding none, Corporal Rogers began CPR and continued until the ambulance arrived almost eight minutes later.

•    Lifesaving Award
     Corporal Robert Alcon, 55, of Vilonia
     Highway Patrol Division – Troop K

  On June 27, 2012 Corporal Robert Alcon witnessed a motor vehicle crash while on patrol in Grant County along U.S. Highway 167 about 5 miles north of Sheridan.

  The single vehicle crash left a woman trapped underneath an overturned sport utility vehicle.

  It was Corporal Alcon who mustered a group of other drivers who had stopped following the crash to move toward the wreckage and begin to lift the vehicle allowing the victim to be removed.

  The victim sustained life threatening injuries from the crash and was transported to a Little Rock hospital where she survived.  Doctors who treated the victim say had it not been for the effort of Corporal Alcon the victim would have died.

•    Arkansas State Police Civilian of the Year (2012)
     Kerry Tabor, 49, of Beebe, Director’s Office
     Information Technology Section

  Kerry Tabor is a thirteen-year veteran of the department, assigned to the Information Technology Section.

  During the preceding year Tabor has directed the development and implementation of the State Police disaster recovery plan.

  Tabor has been instrumental in the deployment of a new patrol car camera system and system configuration of the developing eCite and eCrash reporting systems.

  The technological knowledge exhibited by Tabor has provided a solid footing for the Arkansas State Police to move forward with new computer based services which were only a dream of law enforcement twenty years ago.

  Tabor’s pride in the Arkansas State Police is persistently found in his work product which is designed to always improve functionality of patrol car electronic and computer systems, but more importantly, increase the safety level for the Arkansas State Troopers using the equipment. 

•    Distinguished Service Award
     Deputy Travis Turner – Howard County Sheriff’s Department
     Patrolman Justin Thornton – Nashville Police Department

  On March 23, 2012 Deputy Turner and Patrolman Thornton were the first law enforcement officer to arrive along a stretch of U.S. Highway 278, north of Ozan (Hempstead County) to render aid to Arkansas State Trooper Pete Penney who had been shot and wounded by a suspect he was attempting to arrest.

  The two officers left their respective patrol assignments to respond to Trooper Penney’s radio call for help.

  Both officers exhibited bravery and a readiness to render aid to Trooper Penney who had taken cover after exchanging gunfire with the suspect.

  Neither officer was aware of the location of the armed suspect and disregarded their own safety to take control of the scene, begin applying first aid to Trooper Penney and taking the suspect into custody.

•    Distinguished Service Award
     Paul Hunt – Nebraska City, Nebraska
     Charles Sachs – Plattsmouth, Nebraska

  On March 4, 2012, Paul Hunt and Charles Sachs were traveling along U.S. Highway 270 in Montgomery County, when they came upon a motor vehicle crash.

  Both men left their vehicles and began to approach a burning car where the voice of a woman could be heard screaming, “Please don’t let me burn.”

  Hunt and Sachs were able to extricate the woman from the wreckage only seconds before the gas tank exploded, engulfing the wreckage in a fireball.

•    Distinguished Service Award
     Michael Nash – Traskwood, Arkansas

  On September 11, 2012, at approximately 7:00 AM a vehicle traveling west on Interstate 630 lost a wheel from the left front, which struck the concrete dividing wall, bounced, and crashed through the windshield of an eastbound vehicle, instantly killing the driver.

  The eastbound vehicle continued moving at an increasing speed, crisscrossing lanes of rush hour traffic.

  Michael Nash who was witnessing the event unfold, maneuvered his vehicle into position to allow the runway car to crash into his and guided his vehicle and the other to a stop along a retaining wall.

  By risking his own life and with disregard for his own property, Nash is credited with saving an untold number of lives traveling along the Interstate highway.

  During today’s awards ceremony the recipients of State Police Departmental Commendations were recognized.  During the previous year the following State Police personnel were awarded official commendations and recognized by the Arkansas State Police Commission.

•   Sergeant Jim Moore – Highway Patrol Division, Aircraft Section

•   Corporal Eric Henson – Highway Patrol Division, Troop K

•   Trooper Thomas Hubbard – Highway Patrol Division, Troop D

•   Telecom Operator Chanda Martin – Highway Patrol Division, Troop G

•   Special Agent Mitch Carolan – Criminal Investigation Division, Company D

•   Corporal Vic Coleman – Highway Patrol Division – Drug Interdiction Unit

•   Trooper First Class Marcus Daniels – Highway Patrol Division, Troop A

•   Trooper First Class Antoine Williams – Highway Patrol Division, Troop A

•   Trooper First Class Heath Nelson – Highway Patrol Division, Troop A

•   Trooper First Class Alan Johnson – Highway Patrol Division, Troop A

•   Special Agent Scott Clark – Criminal Investigation Division, Company C

•   Special Agent Dennis Morris – Criminal Investigation Division, Company C

•   Special Agent Hays McWhirter – Criminal Investigation Division, Company C

•   Special Agent Scotty Dodd – Criminal Investigation Division, Company C

•   Special Agent David Rider – Criminal Investigation Division, Company C

•   S/A Shannon Shepherd – Criminal Investigation Division, Company C

•   Special Agent Corwin Battle – Criminal Investigation Division, Company C

•   Special Agent Louis Imler – Criminal Investigation Division, Company C

•   Special Agent Larry Carter – Criminal Investigation Division, Company E

•   Special Agent Bryan McAllister – Criminal Investigation Division, Company D

•   Special Agent Dwane Luter – Criminal Investigation Division, Company E