News Releases

Rutledge Announces Officer of the Year, Regional Winners

Says, ‘Arkansas is fortunate to have officers who put their lives on the line to protect us’

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today hosted the 2021 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year awards and recognition luncheon at the Benton Event Center, where she announced Lonoke Police Officer Cody Carpenter, Lonoke Police Officer Brandon Ray and Arkansas State Police Corporal Mark Blackerby as the Law Enforcement Officers of the Year. Officer Carpenter, Officer Ray and Corporal Blackerby apprehended a suspect accused of kidnapping a girl from North Carolina. Their actions saved the child and safely reunited her with her family.

“The dedication of Officer Carpenter, Officer Ray and Corporal Blackerby saved a young girl from a kidnapper,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas is fortunate to have officers who put their lives on the line to protect us. It is an honor to not only recognize Officer Carpenter, Officer Ray and Corporal Blackerby, but also the regional and county winners and to thank the many brave men and women in blue who sacrifice so much to protect our communities.”

On February 20, 2021, the Lonoke Police Department responded to a call to investigate an out-of-state vehicle suspected to be involved in a North Carolina kidnapping. Officer Carpenter and Officer Ray were the first officers on scene and upon contact with the suspect, the suspect fired at Officer Carpenter who was shot multiple times. Officer Ray immediately returned fire and the suspect fled the scene in his vehicle. Officer Ray gave the information of the fleeing suspect over the radio and began life saving aid to Officer Carpenter. Corporal Blackerby heard the radio traffic and observed the vehicle leaving the scene at a high rate of speed. Corporal Blackerby pursued the suspect to a dead end road where the suspect’s vehicle became stuck behind a building. Corporal Blackerby waited for back up before approaching the vehicle. Corporal Blackerby observed the young girl running through a field and, accompanied by his K-9 partner, Corporal Blackerby gave commands for her to stop and come towards him. She was later identified as the missing girl from North Carolina and was safely transported back to her family. The suspect was found in his vehicle with a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officer Carpenter suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was airlifted to a local hospital for emergency medical care. He has made a full recovery and has returned to full duty.

Officer Carpenter, Officer Ray and Corporal Blackerby were nominated by Lonoke Police Chief Matt Edwards and Arkansas State Police Sergeant Chuck Lewis.

In a statement, Chief Edwards said, “Thanks to the bravery of Officer Cody Carpenter, Officer Brandon Ray, Arkansas State Police Trooper Mark Blackerby and all assisting agencies, this 14-year-old girl was safely returned to her family in Denton, North Carolina.”

The other Regional Officers of the Year include Harrison Police Department Detective Corporal Ted Schaeffer from the Northwest Region for his work saving a minor from a child predator. There was a tie in the Northeast Region between Arkansas Highway Patrol First Lieutenant Scott Fraley (retired) for being one of the most active Highway Police Officers in his 29 years of drug interdiction enforcement and Arkansas State Police Corporal Freddy Ware for his effort in community policing between youth and law enforcement. In the Southeast Region, Arkansas Department of Corrections Agent Christopher Studdard is honored for his work tracking an inmate who escaped custody. In the Southwest Region, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Wildlife Officer Jake Stanford is recognized for his work saving a child from swift current in the Buffalo River.

Rutledge also presented the Valor Tributes, which is given in honor of members of the law enforcement community who tragically lost their lives while in the line of duty and to COVID-19 in 2021. This year’s tributes were presented to Officer Kevin Apple, Pea Ridge Police Department; Deputy Harry “Andy” Buschmann, Independence County Sheriff’s Office; Officer Christopher Cummins, Bella Vista Police Department; Lieutenant Hasain El-Amin, Arkansas State Hospital Department of Public Safety; Sergeant Rick Entmeier, Fort Smith Police Department; Lieutenant James Guynes, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office; Special Agent Gregory Holland, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Police Services; Detention Deputy Chris Mayhorn, Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office; Sergeant Chandler Moore, Arkansas Highway Patrol; Deputy James Morgan, Baxter County Sheriff’s Office; Corporal Jeff Neel, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Deputy Joshua Pierson, Benton County Sheriff’s Office; Deputy Frank Ramirez, Jr., Independence County Sheriff’s Office; and Sergeant A.C. Simpson, Jr., Drew County Sheriff’s Office.

County Officers of the Year

Arkansas County

Corporal Billy McCradic, Arkansas State Police

Ashley County

Trooper Charles (Ross) Allen, Arkansas State Police

Baxter County

Special Agent Jackie Stinnett, Arkansas State Police

Benton County

Officer John Hearron, Bella Vista Police Department

Boone County

Detective Corporal Ted Schaeffer, Harrison Police Department

Bradley County

Senior Corporal Larry McMahan, Arkansas State Police

Calhoun County

Trooper First Class Wade Schanzlin, Arkansas State Police

Carroll County

Corporal Seth Barber and Deputy Amanda Satter, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office

Chicot County

Trooper Christian Morphis, Arkansas State Police

Clark County

The Late Sergeant James Mayhue, Clark County Sheriff’s Office

Clay County

Special Agent Mark Vavak, Arkansas State Police

Cleburne County

Sergeant Mark Stine, Heber Springs Police Department

Cleveland County

Corporal Greg Rowland, Arkansas State Police

Columbia County

Trooper Brian Palmer, Arkansas State Police

Conway County

Chief Sonny Stover, Morrilton Police Department

Craighead County

Internet Crimes Against Children Division Detectives, Jonesboro Police Department

Crawford County

Trooper Rafael Guerra, Arkansas State Police

Crittenden County

First Lieutenant Scott Fraley, Ret., Arkansas Highway Patrol

Cross County

Trooper Tanner Hess, Arkansas State Police

Dallas County

Trooper Jimmy Plyler Jr., Arkansas State Police

Desha County

Senior Corporal Kelvin Fells, Arkansas State Police

Drew County

Corporal Lagarian Cross, Arkansas State Police

Faulkner County

Trooper Tyler Langley, Arkansas State Police

Franklin County

Trooper James Ray, Arkansas State Police

Fulton County

Trooper Jason Long, Arkansas State Police

Garland County

Deputy Jon Lane, Garland County Sheriff’s Office

Grant County

Officer Layton Bell, Sheridan Police Department

Greene County

Corporal Todd Harris, Arkansas State Police

Hempstead County

Trooper Trevor Dew, Arkansas State Police

Hot Spring County

Major Freddie Otts, Arkansas Department of Community Corrections

Howard County

Officer James Ross, Arkansas Department of Community Corrections

Independence County

Corporal Dustin Carpenter, Arkansas State Police

Izard County

Trooper Remington Lively, Arkansas State Police

Jackson County

Sergeant Corrina Owens, Arkansas Department of Corrections

Jefferson County

Trooper Shane Caviness, Arkansas State Police

Johnson County

Chief David Griggs, Lamar Police Department

Lafayette County

Trooper First Class David Fielding Jr., Arkansas State Police

Lawrence County

Corporal Phillip Roark, Arkansas State Police

Lee County

Senior Special Agent Aundrae Mack, Arkansas State Police

Lincoln County

Officer Hunter Aldridge, Star City Police Department

Little River County

Trooper Joshua Broughton, Arkansas State Police

Logan County

Corporal Jed Bolyard, Arkansas State Police

Lonoke County

Officer Cody Carpenter and Officer Brandon Ray, Lonoke Police Department (tie)

Corporal Mark Blackerby. Arkansas State Police (tie)

Madison County

Trooper First Class Ronnie Boyd, Arkansas State Police

Marion County

Corporal Robert Sanford, Arkansas State Police

Miller County

Trooper First Class Dale Young, Arkansas State Police

Mississippi County

Corporal Freddy Ware, Arkansas State Police

Monroe County

Agent Christopher Studdard, Arkansas Department of Corrections

Montgomery County

Chief Deputy Will Brakefield, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office

Nevada County

Trooper Jacob Price, Arkansas State Police

Newton County

Corporal Jayson Poole, Arkansas State Police

Ouachita County

Trooper Justin Starnes, Arkansas State Police

Perry County

Trooper Brady Nuckels, Arkansas State Police

Phillips County

Special Agent Heath Gurley, Arkansas State Police

Pike County

Deputy James “Jim” Garrett, Pike County Sheriff’s Office

Poinsett County

Corporal Scott McLaughlin, Arkansas State Police

Polk County

Sergeant Jim Smith, Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Pope County

Deputy Louis Hardy, Pope County Sheriff’s Office

Prairie County

Special Agent Rodney Davenport, Arkansas State Police

Pulaski County

Corporal Brandon Love, Arkansas State Police (tie)

Trooper Dakota Davis, Arkansas State Police (tie)

Trooper Korbyn Freeman, Arkansas State Police (tie)

Trooper Jeb Little, Arkansas State Police (tie)

Randolph County

Trooper First Class Zachary Paschal, Arkansas State Police

St. Francis County

Deputy Allan Spencer, St. Francis County Sheriff’s Office

Saline County

Officer Rachelle Kling, Bryant Police Department

Scott County

Chief Wayne Robb, Mansfield Police Department

Searcy County

Deputy Joey Baysinger, Searcy County Sheriff’s Office

Sebastian County

Officer Colby Edwards, Fort Smith Police Department (tie)   

Officer Clinton Shown, Fort Smith Police Department (tie)

Sevier County

Wildlife Officer Jake Stanford, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Sharp County

Senior Special Agent Wendall Jines, Arkansas State Police

Stone County

Trooper Jonathan Arnold, Arkansas State Police

Union County

Trooper Victor Meza-Toro, Arkansas State Police

Van Buren County

Officer Terri Hicks, Clinton Police Department

Washington County

Officer Garrett Henry, Tontitown Police Department

White County

Chief William Miller, Pangburn Police Department

Woodruff County

Trooper Jess Burris, Arkansas State Police

Yell County

Chief Rick Padgett, Danville Police Department