Several Pine Bluff police officers were honored for their performance on duty Tuesday during the monthly Coffee with the Chiefs, sponsored by Interested Citizens for Voter Registration.
Among those recognized was Sgt. Derric Neal, who was responsible for the arrest of a man who had shot at two police officers last year.
Deputy Chief Billy Elliott said in a letter to Chief Kelvin Sergeant that Neal arrested John Boston, who was wanted on felony allegations of aggravated assault stemming from the incident involving the officers, as well as warrants from other jurisdictions and a probation violation warrant from Pulaski County.
Sgt. Brett Talley, a supervisor of the Violent Crimes Task Force, said in a letter to Capt. Terry Hopson that Neal was in a barber shop at 16th Avenue and Linden Street getting his hair cut, and that of his son, when he recognized Boston and was able to arrest him without incident.
“In my opinion, Boston was one of Pine Bluff’s most wanted due to the nature of his crimes that led to him having warrants and the community and law enforcement personnel in our area is all safer now that he is in custody,” Talley said in the letter.
Officer George Perez and Michael Merritt were honored for their actions after responding to a reported battery at Hazel’s Bottle Shop at 2811 S. Hazel St. on Feb. 26. They found an employee who had been battered and who said that a male came into the store, came behind the counter and began to fight him. The clerk had a bloody, swollen nose and an abrasion under his left eye. The report also said 82 bottles of alcohol were broken and scattered throughout the store’s floor.
Perez and Merritt identified the suspect from store video and tracked a license plate number to the suspect’s house where he was arrested.
Deputy Chief Kelvin Hadley said in a letter to Sergeant that officers do not normally make arrests on misdemeanor charges unless they occur in the officer’s presence.
“Because of the preponderance of evidence and the video footage that the officers saw, the officers used great judgment to make an arrest and also to ensure that the victim can feel assured that justice was served,” Hadley said.
Also recognized were Violent Crime Task Force Officers Kevin Collins and Tamica Oswalt, who, Hadley said, “have been involved in several incidents involving the seizure of guns and drugs being taken off the streets.”
“These officers continue to go above and beyond the call of their duties to ensure that there would be a safe environment in the City of Pine Bluff,” Hadley said. “They continue to capture the suspects even when they are involved in pursuits when no one gets hurt. The example that these officers displays continues to show why the Violent Crime Task Force is such a great asset to the community.”
Attached to the letter to Sergeant were four reports, all dated in February and all involving Oswalt and Collins locating guns and drugs after traffic stops.