Editor’s Note: This story is part of an ongoing series profiling police officers, whose work often goes unnoticed in the community.
It took Pine Bluff Police Officer Shaun Cook almost a year to get hired by the department, but he hung in there and is glad he did.
“I applied when I was 21 and was 22 when I was hired,” Cook said. “There were 16 of us in that first group that Chief (Brenda Davis) Jones hired. There are maybe five of us left.”
Former Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth replaced Davis-Jones with now-retired Jeff Hubanks when she assumed office Jan. 1, 2013.
A native of White Hall and a graduate of White Hall High School, Cook said he became interested in police work after making friends with some of the law enforcement officers who worked security at what was then Brookshire’s, where Cook was also working.
He began at the Police Department in December 2010, and after spending 12 weeks at the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, Cook was initially assigned to the graveyard shift as a patrol officer.
“I was on graveyard for less than a month and then went to days and stayed on days until I went to Service Division,” Cook said. “I’m still there.”
Although Cook is designated as a warrant officer, he spends much of his time working special events for the department, including the P.A.Y. (Police and Youth) Camp, which began June 4 and will continue through mid-July.
“P.A.Y. Camp is a lot of work and there’s a lot that goes into it that people don’t see,” Cook said. “When we go out of town on trips we start at 7 a.m. and sometimes we’re not back until 7 p.m. When we went to the Memphis Zoo last year that was a 14 or 15 hour day.”
He said one of the things he enjoys most about being involved in the various community activities the department sponsors is that “You see something different each week. There’s always something going on.”
He also helped out at a Challenger League baseball game this spring and said, “I didn’t know what to expect going in but I want to do it again.”
After P.A.Y. Camp, Cook said officers will get a week-long break, then they will have to prepare for the annual basketball camp. After that, the department’s fishing derby will take place just before school starts.
“It’s fun doing what I do,” he said. “We’re always thinking about what we can do to make things better.”
As far as the future, Cook said anything could happen in the next few years to change his mind but for now, he is planning to retire from the department in “21 more years.”