Sunday was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and I would be remiss if I let the occasion pass without offering my personal appreciation to those who wear a badge to protect our communities in Northeast Arkansas.
Each call, traffic stop and interaction has the potential to become a dangerous situation, and that is a risk they willingly take as part of a “day on the job.”
I have had countless friends through the years who have donned the blue to serve at local police departments throughout the region, as well as with county sheriff’s offices and the Arkansas State Police.
One thing I have noted is that many of my law enforcement friends have also become activists at some level for a community cause, whether it be to help those with mental illness, those who are homeless, youth who are making decisions that could impact their futures or children who are in bad situations at home.
This drive is undoubtedly fueled by the fact that they see the plight of a community up close and personal. They have a front row seat to the need for proactivity, rather than reactivity – though reacting to situations is obviously a big part of their job.
I also have to extend my thanks and thoughts to the families of our local officers and those across the state and nation.
As a wife and mother, I know the worries I have when my husband and sons leave the house and go out into the world. I can’t help but take a sigh of relief when we are all back together, safe and sound, under the same roof.
I can only imagine how much that worry is magnified when your spouse or child is in a profession like law enforcement where the risks are so much greater.
We are fortunate in our area that we have not seen a lot of line-of-duty deaths. The Officer Down Memorial Page lists a total of 331 line-of-duty deaths in the state of Arkansas.
Interestingly, many of the Northeast Arkansas fatalities reported are from the early 1900s. The Jonesboro Police Department, Paragould Police Department and Walnut Ridge Police Department all have one line-of-duty death listed, all by gunfire. Paragould’s was in 1911, Walnut Ridge’s in 1912 and Jonesboro’s in 1920.
Some more recent memorials listed include the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office in 1983, the Trumann Police Department in 2009 and 2011 and the Newport Police Department in 2017.
A complete listing of memorials for officers in Arkansas and across the nation can be found at odmp.org.
So as I reflect on the work done by our law enforcement in Northeast Arkansas, the risks they take and the relationships they build, I am grateful indeed for the service they provide. My appreciation is the least I can offer them.
Gretchen Hunt can be reached at email@example.com.