News Releases

    Law Enforcement Summit Highlights Legal Challenges of Medicinal Marijuana


    October 1, 2019

    Recognized Washington County Officer as Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

    BENTON – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today hosted the 2019 Law Enforcement Summit at the Benton Event Center, where she announced Washington County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Brett Thompson as the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. A record 672 law enforcement personnel from across the State attended the 17th annual summit and heard from experts on recent issues facing the law enforcement community, including medical marijuana and eyewitness identification.

    “It is extremely important to provide opportunities that bring together law enforcement officers from across the State, to recognize these heroes and dedicated servants, while also discussing pressing issues facing their communities,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The implementation of Arkansas’s medicinal marijuana law has brought forward many questions and uncertainties for our officers, and today’s summit was a chance to provide vital resources to take back to their respective agencies.”

    The 2019 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year recipient, Corporal Brett Thompson, was recognized for an incident on November 11, 2018, when he stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation in Tontitown. As the suspect stopped the vehicle, he immediately began to fire at Corporal Thompson as he was exiting his patrol vehicle. The two engaged in an extended gunfight with the suspect advancing on Corporal Thompson. During this incident, two other civilian vehicles approached the scene before the drivers recognized the dangerous situation and safely left the perimeter of the gunfight.

    Corporal Thompson was able to stop the advancement of the suspect through directed fire. Ultimately, the suspect retreated and fled in his vehicle where he later engaged in a pursuit by neighboring jurisdictions in Springdale and Fayetteville, and he exchanged fire with those officers. The suspect was taken into custody shortly thereafter.

    Thompson was nominated by Washington County Captain Ti Augustine who stated, “It was through Cpl. Thompson’s training, tactical mindset, and courageous actions that he was able to survive the encounter, protect himself and others and give good information out over the radio, in a calm and understandable tone, to other officers which led to them locating and apprehending (the suspect).”

    Regional Officers of the Year recognized during the luncheon included: St. Charles Police Chief Jamie Forbes, Guy Police Department Senior Corporal Steven Rayburn, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission K-9 Handler Corporal Gary Stell, and Arkansas State Police Corporal Robert Stewart.

    A list of the outstanding officer winners from each county can be found at the conclusion of this release.

    Rutledge also presented a VALOR tribute, which is given in honor of members of the law enforcement community who tragically lost their lives while in the line of duty this past year. This year’s tribute was presented to the family of Stone County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Michael Stephen.

    Participants in attendance listened to a presentation from Colorado legal experts, David Blake, Chris Halsor and Cory Amend where they addressed the many challenges law enforcement experience with legal medicinal marijuana, including issues involving, possession, paraphernalia, open container, transportation and driving under the influence.

    The summit was kicked off by Norwood, Massachusetts Police Chief William Brooks III discussing eyewitness identification. According to studies, it is estimated that approximately 70 percent of persons who are wrongfully convicted in our nation are convicted on the basis of erroneous eyewitness identification.

    Rutledge welcomed Lauren Wagner, a High-Tech Crime Training Specialist who coordinates and provides training on high-tech crime investigations and forensics to local, state and federal justice and public safety agencies. She spoke on Online Investigations: Tools, Tips, and Tricks.

    Assistant Attorney General Jill Irwin presented on Monsters behind the Machines, a look into some of the cases that have been investigated by the Attorney General’s Office Special Investigations Department.

    County Officers of the Year

    Arkansas County

    Chief Jamie Forbes, St. Charles Police Department

    Ashley County

    Jail Administrator Nicole Carter, Ashley County Sheriff’s Office

    Baxter County

    Corporal Doug Small, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Benton County

    Sergeant Matt Nading, Benton County Sheriff’s Office

    Boone County

    Corporal Wade Grayson, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Bradley County

    Officer Alex Meeks, Warren Police Department

    Calhoun County

    Trooper First Class Wade Schanzlin, Arkansas State Police

    Carroll County

    Sergeant Craig Hicks, Berryville Police Department

    Chicot County

    Captain Bob Graham, Lake Village Police Department

    Clark County

    Chief Deputy Raymond Funderburk, Clark County Sheriff’s Office

    Clay County

    Chief Jeremi Wicker, Piggott Police Department

    Cleburne County

    Lieutenant Bryon Rushing, Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office

    Cleveland County

    Captain Jake Dunn, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Columbia County

    Trooper First Class Bryan Christenson and Trooper Lucas Talley, Arkansas State Police

    Conway County

    Sheriff Mike Smith, Conway County Sheriff’s Office

    Craighead County

    Sheriff Marty Boyd, Craighead County Sheriff’s Office

    Crawford County

    Trooper Matt Price, Arkansas State Police

    Crittenden County

    Trooper Dustin Arnold, Arkansas State Police

    Cross County

    Trooper Tanner Hess, Arkansas State Police

    Dallas County

    K-9 Handler Corporal Gary Don Stell, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Desha County

    School Resource Officer Toni Stafford, Dumas Police Department

    Drew County

    The Late Officer Iciephine Green, University of Arkansas Monticello Police Department

    Faulkner County

    Senior Corporal Steven Rayburn, Guy Police Department

    Franklin County

    Trooper Ben Ibarra, Arkansas State Police

    Fulton County

    Sheriff Al Roork, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

    Garland County

    Officer Cash Murray, Hot Springs Police Department

    Grant County

    The Late Deputy Keith Wright, Grant County Sheriff’s Office

    Greene County

    Corporal Todd Harris, Arkansas State Police

    Hempstead County

    Corporal Jeffery Neel, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Hot Spring County

    Trooper First Class Terry Sawyer, Arkansas State Police

    Howard County

    Sergeant John Partain, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Independence County

    Deputy Bobby Tate, Independence County Sheriff’s Office

    Izard County

    Sergeant Ronnie Stewart, Arkansas State Police

    Jackson County

    Corporal Robert Stewart, Arkansas State Police

    Jefferson County

    Sergeant Kimberly Fontaine, Arkansas State Police

    Johnson County

    Patrolman Nathan Warren, Clarksville Police Department

    Lafayette County

    Wildlife Officer Andrew Watson, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Lawrence County

    Senior Special Agent Creston Hutton, Arkansas State Police

    Lee County

    Special Agent Jason Martin, Arkansas State Police

    Lincoln County

    Lieutenant Kenneth Keough, Star City Police Department

    Little River County

    Wildlife Officer Cody Standifer, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Logan County

    Trooper Jed Bolyard, Arkansas State Police

    Lonoke County

    Sergeant Virgil “Calvin” Thomas, Cabot Police Department

    Madison County

    Sergeant Michael Sloan, Madison County Sheriff’s Office

    Marion County

    Sheriff Clinton Evans, Marion County Sheriff’s Office

    Miller County

    Detective Brian Tribble and Detective Jason White, Texarkana Police Department

    Mississippi County

    Corporal Rockey Rapert and Corporal Brandon Bennett, Arkansas State Police

    Monroe County

    Special Agent Brandon Chandler, 1st Judicial Drug Task Force

    Montgomery County

    Sheriff David White, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office

    Nevada County

    Chief Joey Beavers, Prescott Police Department

    Newton County

    Trooper First Class Jason Baethke, Arkansas State Police

    Ouachita County

    Deputy Adam LaDuke, Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office

    Perry County

    Sergeant Keenan Carter, Perry County Sheriff’s Office

    Phillips County

    Sheriff Neal Byrd, Phillips County Sheriff’s Office

    Pike County

    Sergeant Ronnie White, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Poinsett County

    Captain Jeremy Lally, Poinsett County Sheriff’s Office

    Polk County

    Chief Deputy Sheriff Randy Jewell, Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    Pope County

    Deputy Thomas Gibson, Pope County Sheriff’s Office

    Prairie County

    Investigator Courtney Kocourek, Prairie County Sheriff’s Office

    Pulaski County

    Investigator Cardarious Walker, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office/ Task Force Officer U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

    Randolph County

    Corporal Jeff Dalton and Corporal Brett Ditto, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    St. Francis County

    Captain Eddie Adamson, St. Francis County Sheriff’s Office

    Saline County

    Special Agent Ryan Jacks, Arkansas State Police

    Scott County

    Trooper First Class Mike Lance, Arkansas State Police

    Searcy County (TIE)

    Lieutenant Billy Cordell, Searcy County Sheriff’s Office

    Wildlife Officer Ken Nelson, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Sebastian County

    Officer Wesley David Sawyer, Fort Smith Police Department

    Sevier County

    Wildlife Officer Sydney Grant, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Sharp County

    Sheriff Mark Counts, Sharp County Sheriff’s Office

    Stone County

    Corporal Chad Cruce, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Union County

    Officer Logan Owens, El Dorado Police Department

    Van Buren County

    Wildlife Officer Brian Tatum, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

    Washington County

    Corporal Brett Thompson, Washington County Sheriff’s Office

    White County

    Trooper Andrew Pannell, Arkansas State Police

    Woodruff County

    Sheriff Phil Reynolds, Woodruff County Sheriff’s Office

    Yell County

    Captain Mark Frost, Dardanelle Police Department

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