Two Pine Bluff police officers were recently recognized by their superiors for their performance of duty — both based on recommendations from the public.
During the monthly Coffee with the Chiefs program, sponsored by Interested Citizens for Voter Registration Tuesday, Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant presented certificates to officers Amber Rhodes and Shanae Howard.
The certificate to Rhodes was based on a letter to the department from Jefferson County Judge Booker Clemons, who said he was traveling east on 38th Avenue near Walmart on May 5 when he saw that a westbound car had stopped because it was on fire.
Clemons said the person who had been driving the car ran up to him and said he had just filled his car up with gas and that Rhodes was the first one on the scene, having approached from the west.
“The car was in full flames,” Clemons said in the letter. “She (Rhodes) stopped her vehicle at a safe distance and ran to the vehicle that was on fire. While observing her heroic action, I had to compliment her for running to danger trying to save a life.”
Clemons said Rhodes told him she did not know there was not anyone in the car.
“The officer risked her life and displayed heroic action as stated by the official because she did not know if anyone was in the vehicle at the time,” Deputy Chief Kelven Hadley said in a note to Sergeant and Assistant Chief Ricky Whitmore.
Howard’s certificate was based on a letter from J. Scott Rainey, who teaches social studies at Watson Chapel Junior High where Howard is assigned as a school resource officer. Rainey said in the letter that immediately following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Feb.14, he started thinking about ways to heighten student sensitivity/awareness of this and other current incidents of violence.
“Ultimately, I turned to a proven method of utilizing a familiar, local expert to be a guest speaker in each of my classes,” Rainey wrote.
“It was my good fortune that our school resource officer (Ms. Howard) was available and enthusiastically accepted the invitation. She prepared a presentation that captivated ALL my students! After a well-planned introduction, she laid the groundwork for how best to proceed with a question and answer discussion that allowed us to learn from each other.”
The teacher went on to say that Howard was able to make solid recommendations on how students should handle themselves in a variety of different scenarios.
“The best evidence that our effort was well worth the time is that my students were attentive and very thoughtful with the questions they asked and the opinions they shared,” Rainey said in the letter.
“The overall objective was that student awareness would be heightened; I must say, her presentation was illustrative to me as well. Finally, I am thankful that Ms. Howard is the resource officer for Watson Chapel Junior High School; it is also good to know that she is part of the Pine Bluff Police Department.”