Blake Educator of Year at Upchurch Banquet

By Staff, 04/3/17 10:42 AM


PRESCOTT – Members of law enforcement in Prescott and Nevada County were honored at the Ila Upchurch Banquet Saturday night.

The event was held in the Prescott High School cafeteria, which was decorated in blue and gold.

Emcee Elaine Williams told those gathered the banquet was to salute law enforcement, adding the city and county have been fortunate as there haven’t been any major incidents such as those happening elsewhere in larger communities. “We have had things happen,” she said. “If you’re stopped by an officer, be courteous.”

Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver introduced Prescott Police Chief Joey Beavers, saying he was “born with a badge and gun. Oliver told of Beaver’s military background and where he’s worked before. Oliver said Beavers has put together a good young force.

Beavers reminded the crowd he was named chief on March 7, but has 27 years of law enforcement experience, working with the military police in the Army and the border patrol, as well as with the Fort Smith Police Department and Arkansas State Police. He came to the PPD in 2011 as the department’s criminal investigator.

Currently the PPD has eight officer and is looking for a ninth. Those in the patrol cars, he said, do the real work. He introduced each one individually, giving a bit of background on them.

Lt. Alex Gamble, he said, is over the patrol division and is “my right hand man”. Det. Cody Ferguson wasn’t present as he’s deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps, but, Beavers said, does the criminal investigation for the PPD and is the new domestic violence coordinator. Athelia Dismuke is the School Resource Officer. Beavers said she’s the bravest of all in the department because she spends her days around hundreds of hormonal teenagers. Andre Jones came to the PPD from the Howard County Sheriff’s Office in 2015. Donald Morris is the “baby” of the group, joining the department in 2016 and is the youngest member. He left a job at Firestone to become a police officer. Woody Perry has “never met a stranger” Beavers said. He came to PPD from Malvern. David Stinson is the newest addition, joining the force in February, coming from the DeQueen PD.

“You don’t do this for the money,” Beavers said, “it’s a calling. Most are police officers because they can’t not be. Some may leave, but they always come back to the ‘thin blue line’.”

Nevada County Sheriff Danny Martin followed, talking about opening the new jail last year and how the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office changed jail administrators shortly after opening. The jail, he said, employs 16 people, most from the county. All of them have undergone training and know how to use pepper spray.

The first person anyone calling the NCSO talks to, he said, is the dispatcher. There are five dispatchers who work 24-7, and are the lifeline for the deputies. They are courteous and well-trained. The NCSO also has 15 reserve deputies, who have gone through more than 100 hours of classes, including taser and firearm training.

Being in law enforcement, he said, is challenging, and finding quality people is an even bigger challenge. He said there are a lot of people who apply to be officers and deputies, but can’t pass the background check, or psychological evaluation, both mandatory. Those who pass those hurdles get to go to the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy where they are taught the law, and undergo rigorous physical training, as well as firearm safety and shooting. A lot wash out here as well.

Members of law enforcement, he said, must have compassion and respect for the public and the law, as well as having a sense of humor. They have to be a friend, father, brother, teacher, counselor and referee. “You have to have a love and passion for it.”

The NCSO, he said, has a good working relationship with area law enforcement agencies, including the PPD, the Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Southwest Drug Task Force, as well as the Arkansas Highway Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The NCSO also has a good relationship with the courts and prosecuting attorney.

Martin also introduced his department, starting with Chief Deputy Larry Miller, saying they started about the same time with the NCSO, went to the PPD and returned to the NCSO. Sgt. Steve Otwell is the sergeant over the patrols and is a former sheriff. Jeremy Hendrix started as a jailer and worked his way up to becoming a deputy. Robert Missey came on board in 2006, was the jail administrator, went to the PPD, but returned to the NCSO as a deputy, saying that’s what he wants to do. Justin Hughes is “always smiling” and also came over from the PPD.

Verion Adams presented the Upchurch Scholarship, for $250, for PHS to Shatayana Ross. Patricia Roberts made the presentation for the Nevada High School senior, Tanner Stone, who wasn’t there because he was with his father who’d been in an accident.

Linda Benton presented the Educator of the Year Award to Teresa Blake of NHS.

Patricia Blake wrapped things up, announcing a public meeting on April 4 at the PHS auditorium to discuss school safety and a special school election on May 9. She also reminded the audience of the Wellness and Learning Expo on April 22 at the Nevada County Courthouse.

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