Rutledge Honors 2015 Outstanding Law Enforcement Officers of the YearWed, Oct 7, 2015
NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today hosted the annual awards and recognition luncheon at the 2015 Arkansas Law Enforcement Summit at Camp Robinson. The Summit, in its 13th year, had a record 600 officers from across the State registered to attend over two days.
Rutledge announced today that Sergeant Ben Sisk and Officer Billy Williams of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have been named 2015 Officers of the Year. Sisk and Williams joined other law enforcement officers honored for going above and beyond the call of duty.
“It is my distinct honor to recognize the heroic efforts of Sergeant Sisk and Officer Williams and award them the 2015 Arkansas Officers of the Year award,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The bravery these two gentlemen showed helped save lives, and for that we are all grateful. It is also my privilege to honor the courage and commitment of each of the district winners. Thank you to all of Arkansas’s law enforcement officers who work hard every day and put themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve their neighbors.”
Sisk and Williams immediately went into action to save the lives of three individuals who were stuck in a pontoon boat near a flood gate on the Arkansas River. The officers began to lose control of the boat as they approached the dam. After several unsuccessful attempts to pull out the occupants, Sisk requested that the open gates be closed to rescue the boaters. Although they only had a two-minute window to rescue the occupants before water would come rushing over the dam, Sisk and Williams safely towed the pontoon to the bank.
Also during the ceremony, Rutledge presented a VALOR tribute to the widow of the late Reserve Deputy Sonny Smith of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. Smith was shot and killed as he and other deputies searched for a burglary suspect in a rural area of Johnson County in May 2015.
Rutledge also presented a K9 VALOR tribute to K9 Titus and his handler Jason Farmer of the Little Rock Police Department. K9 Titus died as a result of heat exhaustion following a lengthy track down of a subject wanted for stealing items from vehicles.
In addition to these recognitions, four other officers from each congressional district were honored for their heroic efforts:
District 1: Corporal Victor Coleman of the Arkansas State Police. Coleman is known nationally and throughout the criminal interdiction community for his hard work and expertise in removing large quantities of narcotics and other illegal substances from the highways.
District 2: Detective Christian Sterka of the Little Rock Police Department. Each year Sterka sets a goal for himself to exceed the previous years’ fugitive arrests. In 2014, his goal was to exceed 176 arrests, and he was successful in assisting in the capture of 195 fugitives.
District 3: Officer Grant Hall of the Lowell Police Department. Hall responded to a vehicle crash in Northwest Arkansas on July 23, 2015. There were no injuries, but one of the individuals involved in the crash had flown in from Louisiana to visit her dying sister in Mountain Home one last time. Hall took care of Corbin at the scene and personally drove her to her family.
District 4: Investigator Gary Don Dorman of the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office. Dorman entered swift water of Pate Creek to rescue a driver trapped in his vehicle before the vehicle sank to the bottom.
In addition to today’s luncheon, the Summit also included presentations from three nationally renowned presenters:
Wichita Police Department Detective Tim Relph was a lead investigator in the task force that arrested Dennis Rader, the man better known as the BTK killer, the serial killer who murdered 10 people in and around Wichita between 1974 and 1991. Relph chronicled the timeline of events, tracking BTK’s history over three decades and will expound on the methods used to ultimately arrest Rader.
Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol was selected by Gov. Jay Nixon to coordinate law enforcement agencies amid the Ferguson Police response to protests following Michael Brown's death in 2014. After Johnson was appointed, highway patrol officers — wearing no SWAT gear — arrived in Ferguson less than a week after the shooting that prompted rioting. Cheers greeted Johnson when he told the crowd that he and his officers were "going to march with you."
Lt. Brian Murphy of the Oak Creek Police Department in Wisconsin was the first officer on the scene on Aug. 5, 2012, after Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others at a Sikh temple. Page shot Murphy 15 times at close range. Remarkably, Murphy was discharged from the hospital less than three weeks later and eventually returned to full duty. He recently retired and was awarded the Medal of Valor by Vice President Joe Biden in February.
Rutledge asks U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection ActTue, Oct 6, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act. Rutledge announced her intention to petition the Court on Sept. 23.
“As the State argues in its petition to the Court, I believe that certiorari should be granted to allow the Court to revisit and overturn the arbitrary viability rule,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas and other States should be allowed to advance their profound interests in defending the life of the unborn, which is exactly what the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act accomplishes.”
The Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act prohibits abortions after 12 weeks of gestation when a heartbeat is detected.
Rutledge’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court comes after a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that affirmed U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright’s ruling that prohibiting abortions after 12 weeks of gestation is unconstitutional. The Attorney General’s Office requested a rehearing of the case before the full membership of the 8th Circuit, but rehearing was denied.
For a copy of the petition, click here.
Rutledge Reacts to EPA’s Implementation of Ozone RuleFri, Oct 2, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement today following the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to issue its final rule that will lower the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion.
“I am disappointed by the EPA's decision to move forward with its new ozone standards,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These standards will impact future economic growth in States like Arkansas. As I have done with EPA’s other power grabs, I plan to join other States to challenge this rule’s implementation.”
In March, Attorney General Rutledge joined with 13 other States in submitting comments in a letter to the EPA explaining the harmful, negative impact the rule would have on States across the country. Attorney General Rutledge also filed her own comment letter criticizing the proposed rule.
The current level of 75 parts per billion was set in 2008. Rutledge points out in the letter that while the Clean Air Act does require the EPA to review the standards every five years, the law does not require the standard be lowered every time it is reviewed.
“So long as the standard is protective of human health and the environment, it can remain unchanged,” Attorney General Rutledge wrote.
Rutledge Announces Annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse SummitThu, Oct 1, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the fourth annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Summit will be Nov. 3. The event, which will be held at the Hot Springs Convention Center, was established as a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators. Members of the general public may also attend and will have the opportunity to hear from experts regarding prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment.
“Prescription drug abuse is a major problem in Arkansas that unfortunately many times leads to accidental death and the misuse of illegal drugs,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Preventing this abuse requires all of us – law enforcement, medical providers, pharmacists and the general public – working together. I am excited to welcome my friend and colleague from Indiana, Attorney General Zoeller, to the Natural State to offer his insight and expertise on this important topic.”
The all-day event will begin with breakout sessions to discuss resources available in Arkansas for prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment. Nearly 44,000 people die from drug overdoses each year, with more than half of those because of abuse of prescription drugs.
Rutledge will host the luncheon, which will include the keynote address from Zoeller, who is serving his second term as Indiana’s 42nd Attorney General. Zoeller created and serves as co-chair of Indiana's Prescription Drug Task Force, is a member of the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana, supports the expansion of School Resource Officers and serves as the National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Committee Co-Chair. A priority of the Task Force is to advance legislation to help combat prescription drug misuse and diversion. Several Task Force accomplishments include its partnership with the Indianapolis Colts to heighten awareness of this epidemic; the launch of its “Train the Trainer” public outreach program; the free online course titled “The Opioid Epidemic and Indiana's Opioid Prescribing Law;” drug take back events; and, the 85-plus outreach seminars/webinars presented to prescribers statewide since the implementation of the opioid prescribing laws.
The afternoon session will include a presentation from Patrick Glynn with the Quincy Police Department in Massachusetts. Glynn will speak about the successes his department has had in utilizing the drug naloxone to assist individuals experiencing opioid overdose.
In addition to the Attorney General’s Office, the Summit is being sponsored by the Arkansas Board of Pharmacy, Arkansas Division of Behavioral Health Services, Arkansas State Police, Benton Police Department, Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, Office of the State Drug Director, Rotary Clubs of Arkansas, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute.
To view the full agenda for the 2015 Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Summit, visit ArkansasAG.gov. Register at cji.edu/2015-arkansas-prescription-drug-abuse-summit/.
Attorney General Partners with Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas to host Crimes Against Children TrainingMon, Sep 28, 2015
NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today offered opening remarks to the Technologically Facilitated Crimes Against Children Training at Camp Robinson. More than 60 law enforcement, child advocacy service providers and representatives of child serving organizations attended the event, which was a partnership between the Attorney General’s Office and the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas.
“I am proud to have partnered with the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas to host this important training,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Technology is rapidly advancing and changing daily, exposing our children to increased dangers. It is critically important to have statewide collaboration to combat these crimes that don’t know geographic, age, race or economic boundaries. I want to extend a special thank you to Sgt. Steven Del Negro for leading today’s sessions and for sharing his specialized expertise and investigative experience with Arkansas.”
Sgt. Del Negro is a 29-year veteran of the Massachusetts State Police, and for the last 12 years of his career, he was assigned to the Digital Evidence Media Section/Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. Sgt. Del Negro was commander for the ICAC Task Force in Massachusetts, in which he provided training to law enforcement, coordinated and conducted investigations, provided public awareness presentations and was the state contact for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. As a state police detective for 16 years, he investigated homicides, unattended deaths, rapes, child abuse, child sexual assaults and other major crimes.
This training provided an overview of the various types of technology used for sexual exploitation and to facilitate crimes against children. Discussion focused on the offenders’ use of technology and challenges new technology creates and how they impact victims.
Rutledge Joins Multistate Investigation into VolkswagenMon, Sep 28, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the State of Arkansas joined the executive committee of a multistate investigation into Volkswagen for altering emissions software to produce favorable test results.
“I am disappointed in Volkswagen and the action they took to modify their emissions testing software,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “These actions are simply wrong, and I will fight for Arkansans who have been impacted by this manufacturer’s misconduct.”
Volkswagen is accused of equipping 11 million diesel vehicles with software that could be used to cheat on emissions tests. Arkansas is joining 28 other attorneys general from across the country to examine any potential consumer protection law violations.
A list of affected models, model years and instructions for vehicle owners can be found at EPA.gov.