An 11-year-old boy and a civilian were honored along with several police officers during the recent Coffee with the Chiefs event, sponsored by Interested Citizens for Voter Registration.
Interim Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield presented the awards during the program, which was held Tuesday at the First Assembly of God Church.
Quick-thinking kid saves grandfather
Nicholas Brown was present on Feb. 14 when his grandfather, Chris Warrior, was shot on the parking lot of the old Food King at West 16th Avenue and Cherry Street while selling Valentine’s Day gift baskets.
According to an email from Pine Bluff Police Detective Lt. Denise Richardson, Warrior’s wounds were severe and required surgery.
“Nicholas knew what to do,” Richardson said in the email. “Nicholas knew how to call for emergency help, and he did just that. He called 911 and patrol officers were able to respond to the scene immediately. Nicholas is smart and he is brave. He kept his cool and got through to emergency dispatchers. He later admitted he was nervous, but he showed great courage, just when his family needed him. Being able to think and react in this type of extreme circumstance is remarkable for a young man of his age. Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is going forward in the presence of fear.”
Deputy Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Hadley, who joined Richardson in the recommendation, said, “Nicholas showed a level of maturity and bravery that is not common among children his age, and thankfully for his quick thinking, he still has his grandfather around to enjoy.”
Man helps save lives
Last month, several police officers were cited for their involvement in saving two women whose vehicle had turned over in a ditch on McFadden Road. After that, Andre Turner was located, and it was determined that he was one of two civilians who were already in the bayou trying to remove the women.
At the time of the initial reports, one of them mentioned an individual known only as “Dre,” who was later determined to be Turner.
“The quick actions of Mr. Andre Turner should be noted because his care and compassion for human life saved the lives of two citizens that are alive and well today,” Hadley said in his recommendation.
Officer helps prevent scam
Pine Bluff Police Officer Roger Gray was recognized for his actions after he was flagged down on Feb. 8 by an elderly female on Camden Road. The woman told Gray she had been contacted by her grandson, who said he needed $4,000 to be bonded out of jail in Lewisville, Texas. She told Gray that she had spoken to a person who identified himself as a sergeant with the Lewisville Police Department, who suggested that she get a Walmart gift card and call him back with the number.
The woman went to her bank, withdrew $4,000, then tried to buy a gift card from Walmart, but the clerk, who was identified as Anna McCoy, would not sell her one because she thought it might be a scam. The woman then saw Gray and flagged him down because she wanted to know the best way to get the money to the jail in Texas.
Gray became suspicious and started his own investigation, determining that the number that was on the woman’s phone was a Canadian number. Gray called the number and spoke to the person who the woman said identified himself as a sergeant. While speaking with the person, the radio in Gray’s police unit keyed up, and the person hung up. Calls made to the same number went to voice mail.
While Gray was still with the woman, he had her call her daughter, who is the mother of the grandson who was supposed to be in jail, and it was determined that the grandson had never been in jail. The woman said she was going to put the money back in the bank.
“Thanks to the officer and the clerk from Walmart that was suspicious from the beginning and would not sell the female the gift card, an elderly subject was saved from being victimized from a scam that could have cost her financially,” Hadley said in the recommendation.
Officers quick to recover stolen cash
Pine Bluff Police officers Nathan Smith, Rick Bunting and Matt Wright were cited for their actions on March 2 when they responded to a burglar alarm at Shell Ross at 1100 S. Ohio St. The front door glass had been broken out and pieces of the cash register were found outside the fenced area.
While searching for evidence, Bunting spotted a subject that was walking out from behind some bushes in the area, and the subject took off, with Bunting giving chase.
Smith and Wright assisted in the chase; after the subject was detained, they backtracked where the subject was last seen and found the cash register with the money still in it.
The owner of the business was so proud of the officers and detectives that responded to the scene that he contacted Hadley and said he felt like they went “above and beyond the call of duty.” He also said that “the officers were like tracking dogs until they caught the suspect.”
“The quick action and response by these officers is just another example that the officers of the Pine Bluff Police Department do their best to serve their community in the best way possible,” Hadley said.
Detective’s persistence solves two crimes
Pine Bluff Police Detective Mike Sweeney was cited twice, once for his actions in identifying two suspects who had been robbing vendors as they were making deliveries to various businesses, and the second for his work in identifying a suspect who robbed Simmons Bank on Olive Street.
According to recommendations from day-shift Lt. Terry Hopson, Sweeney was assigned to investigate the robberies of the vendors and developed leads, collected evidence, along with statements from witnesses. Eventually, after hours of investigation, Sweeney developed two suspects and secured their arrests and formal charges.
“Detective Sweeney showed professionalism, patience and determination in solving these difficult cases and putting two dangerous individuals in jail,” Hopson said in the recommendation.
Regarding the bank robbery on Dec. 2, a male suspect entered the bank, threatened a female teller, then took a large amount of money. Sweeney was assigned as the lead investigator on the case.
Numerous witnesses were interviewed, and a couple of possible suspects noted, but there were no arrests for several weeks, Hopson said.
“Detective Sweeney continued to use his resources and experience to reach out to all outlets and, in late January, developed a suspect who was from Sebastian County,” Hopson said. “Sweeney then continued developing information and eventually arrested the suspect, interviewing him in Fort Smith.”
Hopson said the man made a full confession and was eventually transferred to the Jefferson County Adult Detention Center.
“Due to Sweeney’s diligence and hard work, he was able to get yet another violent criminal off the streets,” Hopson said in the recommendation.