Faulkner County residents honored eight local officers who died in the line of duty during a memorial ceremony Thursday at Simon Park.
"When a person loses their life in the line of duty, it affects generations," keynote speaker Mandy Noblitt Hall, who lost her father after he died in the line of duty on Nov. 7, 1988, said Thursday. "We must carry on the legacy and their memory and that's why I love this service. Even though families know, and the officers know the risk they're taking when they put on the badge and go to work, you're never prepared for that call or that knock at the door."
Noblitt Hall shared with an audience of more than 100 Faulkner County residents her memories of her father, his dedication to his job as well as his family and the importance of continuing to support and thank law enforcement on a daily basis.
"We should stand up and show our support of law enforcement because they have committed to uphold the law and to protect us and not just because a lot of us [here today] have a family member in [law enforcement], but because it's our duty," she said. "They're serving us. Just because there's a handful of bad guys that end up in law enforcement doesn't mean that we should judge the whole mass ... We each have a choice in life. Officers, you have chosen to put on the badge and sacrifice and risk your lives to protect and to serve and to show love to our community."
Students with Carolyn Lewis Elementary School helped open Thursday's ceremony by singing "Dream of You," which was followed by a performance by Union Pacific Railroad officer Shana Cobbs, who sang the "National Anthem."
Conway Police Chief Jody Spradlin thanked each attendee for coming out before he and Faulkner County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Matt Rice handed roses to officers and deputies of their departments respectively one-by-one for each fallen officer. Roses were ceremonial placed in front of pictures of each of the county's fallen officers.
When the time came for Noblitt Hall's father to be recognized, Spradlin stepped to the side so that she could hand off the rose that was placed in honor his sacrifice.
The Conway Police Department's fallen officers include:Patrolman Robert W. “Bob” Martin who was killed by gunfire on March 24, 1981. Patrolman Barry Kent McDaniel who was killed by vehicular assault on April 2, 1982. Patrolman Lawrence Ray Noblitt who was killed by gunfire on Nov. 7, 1988. Patrolman William “Will” McGary who was hit by a vehicle and killed while directing traffic at the scene of a crash on Feb. 1, 2013.
FCSO's fallen officers include:Deputy Oscar L. Honea who was killed by gunfire on Oct. 23, 1914. Deputy William E. Hathaway was killed by gunfire on Aug. 5, 1931. Deputy Jimmy “Jim” Wooley died as the result of a fall while investigating a theft on Aug. 5, 2003. Deputy Hans Fifer died from a heart attack during SWAT training on April 8, 2013.
Noblitt Hall said Thursday's ceremony is a tribute that her father and every other fallen officer deserves. She also said it's a reminder to thank and respect all who currently serve.
"All of the officers honored here today died under different circumstances, but all with the same cause — to serve and protect those in our community," she said.
Thursday's memorial service was held in light of National Police Week.
Former president John F. Kennedy dubbed May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week it falls on as National Police Week back in 1962.
″[I]t is important that our people know and understand the problems, duties, and responsibilities of their police departments and the necessity for cooperating with them in maintaining law and order,” the original proclamation reads in part. ”[I]t is fitting and proper that we express our gratitude for the dedicated service and courageous deeds of law enforcement officers and for the contributions they have made to the security and well-being of all our people.”
Through the years, CPD, FCSO and the University of Central Arkansas Police Department have come together to host a memorial service for local law enforcement on the Thursday that falls during National Police Week.