Law enforcement officers from the Conway Police Department, the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Department and the University of Central Arkansas’s Police Department came together with the community Tuesday night to honor the fallen law enforcement officers in Faulkner County and throughout the state of Arkansas. The ceremony, held at Simon Park in downtown Conway, was in conjunction with National Police Officers week and focused on remembering the lives of officers who died in the line of duty in 2010-2011, but also those that lost their lives throughout the history of the participating agencies.
Conway Police Chief A.J. Gary introduced the guest speaker, J.R. Howard, who is the director of the Arkansas State Police and one of the officers called in to investigate the murder of Conway Patrolman Lawrence Ray Noblitt, who was killed in 1988.
Howard addressed the crowd and reminded everyone of the way in which a community is affected at the loss of an officer.
"It has been said that when a good man is hurt, all that are good suffer with him," he said. "Whether you knew the officers personally or not or whether you wear a badge doesn’t matter, we all suffer at the loss of a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty."
Howard shared with the crowd his memories of what he discovered about the citizens of Conway when he investigated Noblitt’s murder.
"I was assigned to assist in the Noblitt murder case and what I found was a community that was hurt," he said. "The entire community wanted swift justice, not just the police department of Officer Noblitt’s family and friends."
Howard went on to say that in the death’s of all the fallen officers, he believes they would all have one last request.
"These officers died preserving a way of life for us all," he said. "To honor them, I hope that we never allow laws to go unenforced and that their bravery and sacrifice continues to bless us all. I believe all of the officers would have one last request and that is to remember the families that are left behind."
Major Bill Milburn with the Conway Police Department sang a song called "Beneath the Badge" with words that echoed the sentiments of everyone who spoke at the event.
"We lend a hand to those in need when help is hard to find." His song came after the reading of the poem "In Flanders Fields" by UCA policeman Jake Moss. Moss shared what the poem meant to him as he reflected on the lives of the fallen officers.
"The poem is a reminder that the lives of our fallen officers resonate," he said. "It is to ensure that they are remembered for more than their last acts and the lives that were cut far too short."
A single red rose was placed beside the photo of several Faulkner County officers during the ceremony, including: Faulkner County Deputy Oscar L. Honea, Faulkner County Deputy William E. Hathaway, Conway Patrolman Robert W. Martin, Conway Patrolman Barry K. McDaniel, Conway Patrolman Lawrence "Ray" Noblitt and Faulkner County Investigator Jim Woolley.
Arkansas officers that lost their lives in 2010 and 2011 were also recognized, including Jefferson County Detention Officer Leonard Wall, West Memphis Police Officer Thomas William "Bill" Evans, West Memphis Sergeant Robert B. Paudert and Trumann Patrolman Jonathan Schmidt.
(Candie Beck is a staff writer and can be reached at 505-1238 or at firstname.lastname@example.org)