Andy Shock’s first year as Faulkner County sheriff has seen its fair share of ups and downs.
Within his first month on the job, the now 14-year veteran of the sheriff’s office implemented a reorganizational plan centered around returning more deputies to the streets of Faulkner County. As a result of the restructure, six employees were not re-hired to their positions at the sheriff’s office in January, and were notified by letter.
"There were several (decisions) that I struggled with, but they were all made while seeking the best interest of this department, but more importantly for the citizens of Faulkner County," Shock told the Log Cabin Democrat in January.
Shock also said rumors insinuating the position moves were politically motivated were "moot."
In March, a Faulkner County grievance committee upheld Shock’s moves in a hearing brought forth by four of the former sheriff’s deputies, which claimed the sheriff violated county policy.
A month later, the sheriff’s office endured dark days when deputy Hans Fifer died during SWAT team tryouts in North Little Rock.
Fifer, 32, of Mayflower, died April 8 after experiencing chest pains and collapsing following his participation in part of the training. At Fifer’s funeral, Shock called the occurrence a "dark day; a nightmare; a day with more questions than answers."
Less than a month later, former sheriff’s candidate Harold Allen Smith pleaded guilty, and admitted to creating false documents that named Shock as the father of an illegitimate black child. In August, Smith was sentenced to one month in federal prison, 12 months supervised release and 100 hours of community service.
Days later, three inmates would escape the Faulkner County jail and incite a three-day manhunt for their capture. Following the escape, Shock said policies and procedures were not followed by detention facility staff, which allowed the escape to occur.
Following the inmates’ capture, three jailers were fired as result of the sheriff’s office investigation.
During his first-year as sheriff, Shock also garnered attention for his plan to provide extensive training to allow Faulkner County schools an avenue to arm its administrators.
Along with Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland, Shock presented his plan to various district school boards, including Mount Vernon-Enola and Mayflower.
As part of his plan, school administrators would undergo the same 110-hour training that volunteer reserve deputies are required to complete.
"I’m all about local decision-making," Shock told the Log Cabin Democrat in August. "I told the administrators that if your school board can get with its constituents and everyone wants to go this way, I’m going to do all I can to make it happen."
In recent months, Shock said his office has created its own Special Weapons and Tactics team, and temporarily withdrawn from the Faulkner County Metro SWAT team.
Shock said the move was made to allow the sheriff’s office time to increase its number of trained deputies.
"For years now, the sheriff’s office has had only one or two members, with the police department fielding the rest (of the Metro SWAT team)," Shock told the Log Cabin Democrat on Dec. 6. "We were severely out-numbered. We’ve put a strong interest in beefing up the SWAT team from our standpoint, because we weren’t pulling our own weight."
As of now, the sheriff’s office SWAT team has about eight members, including two negotiators. Shock said the team is led by Maj. John Randall.
Both Shock and Conway Chief of Police A.J. Gary said plans to rejoin the sheriff’s office and police department under the Metro SWAT umbrella are expected to occur at some point in the future.
"We have absolute, full intentions on rejoining (the Metro SWAT team), but we want to get on our feet to where we are comparable to Conway’s SWAT members," Shock said.
Under Shock’s guidance, the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office has also launched a new website, a new street crimes unit and arrested a suspect in connection to an August murder in Greenbrier.
(Staff writer Lee Hogan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1246. Follow Lee Hogan on Twitter at twitter.com/LCD_LeeHogan. To comment on this and other stories, log on to thecabin.net.)