In 1962, Congress passed a joint resolution establishing the week of May 15 as “National Police Week” to pay special recognition to law enforcement officers who tragically lost their lives in the line of duty. The names of those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice are etched on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Memorial. Each year during this week, families and colleagues of the fallen travel to our nation’s capital for this fitting tribute.
This year, 360 names have been added to the memorial including four officers who served the citizens of Arkansas.
Drew County Sheriff’s Deputy Timothy Braden gave his life while serving and protecting his community. Deputy Braden unfortunately passed away in a car crash after attempting to stop a vehicle whose driver refused to stop; leading him on a high-speed chase. His commitment to enforcing the law, helping those in need and protecting the community touched the lives of those he served with. They will remember him as a kind and hardworking officer who performed his job with a positive attitude.
Lt. Patrick Weatherford of the Newport Police Department responded to a call of a vehicle break-in when he was fatally shot. He proudly served in law enforcement for 15 years.
Throughout his time in uniform, he continued to pursue opportunities to better serve the community. He was a 2016 graduate of the FBI National Academy and had been working toward a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice.
Yell County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Mainhart was responding to a domestic disturbance call and initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle connected to the situation when he was fatally shot. Mainhart spent more than 20 years serving and protecting Arkansas communities in law enforcement and was a veteran of the Air Force.
Keith Bradford Sr., Turrell Police Chief helped launch the community’s police department in 2012. In 2014, he responded to a call to assist officers from another local jurisdiction with a high-speed chase. Chief Bradford checked to ensure the other officers involved in the incident were safe, but he was left shaken. Hours later, he suffered a fatal heart attack. He had dedicated more than 20 years of his life to law enforcement.
He is one of 231 members of the law enforcement community who, though he died prior to this past year, his sacrifice had not been previously documented on the memorial.
These heroes, like all members of the law enforcement community, commit their lives to protecting the public. In their profession there is no such thing as an off-duty officer. Answering a call for help is ingrained in who they are.
This year, Congress passed the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act to give first responders’ home states the opportunity to provide a fitting tribute for their service should they make the ultimate sacrifice. This allows governors to order the American flag to fly at half-staff in recognition of first responders who are killed in the line of duty. We can all agree these courageous public servants deserve this powerful acknowledgment in recognition of their sacrifice.
On behalf of all Arkansans, I thank law enforcement officers for all they do to keep us safe. We are grateful for their dedication and heroism they display every day.
John Boozman, R-Ark., has represented Arkansas in the U.S. Senate since 2011. To participate in the Times Record’s Community Matters series, email Executive Editor Mardi Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org.