Sharp County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Kevin “Bart” Simpson reviews several plaques, including on for the Medal of Valor, presented to Craig Richardson, the son of Cave City Police Officer Jeff Richardson, the only Sharp County officer killed in the line of duty. Sheriff Shane Russell and Simpson presented Richardson with the plagues in honor of his late father, who was killed in 1993 at the annual Memorial on May 10 at the Sharp County Courthouse. Below, top:’ The Cave City Police Department officers stand in respect of Richardson, and below, Sheriff Shane Rus-sell and Simpson place wreath on the Fallen Officer Memorial during the ceremony
Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor
A bright sunny sky accentuated the colors of Old Gary on Wed., May 10 as police officers from across the county gathered to show their respect to all police for their service to the community, as well as to hon-or Sharp County’s only fallen officer, Jeff Richardson. This was the thirtieth anniversary of his May21,1993 death. The local ceremony is part of a national holiday that has been observed for over 47years. Sharp County’s Cpl. Josh Williams and Tye Baxter advanced the colors before the service began with Chief Deputy Kevin “Bart” Simpson singing the National Anthem to open the service. The crowd was welcomed to the memorial at the monument site in front of the Sharp County Courthouse in Ash Flat as police officers in full uniform from Sharp County cities stood in somber remembrance of Richardson and the 246 police officers killed in the line of duty in 2022,a huge decrease over the previous year’s700, of which Covid19 accounted for 492 of the deaths.
While this number of Line-of-duty deaths for police officers fell last year, officers who lost their lives were more likely to have been ambushed on the job according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. After the invocation, Sheriff Shane Russell welcomed attendees to the service to recognize, honor and remember Richardson for his service. Russell said Richardson gave his life in the line of the duty and was described by former Sharp County sheriff Sonnie Powell as a good officer and family man. He explained Richardson’s best friend Lyndall Jackson said Richardson was given the nickname of Tree top due to other students watching him get off the bus and stating he was as tall as a tree. Russell also said,“ As we go through the ceremony today, let us also honor and remember the seven officers who have died in the line of duty in Arkansas over the past year. In doing so, let’s remember and reflect on the words inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.. “It is not how these officers died, it is how they lived.” Russell then introduced State Representative Trey Steimel, who served as the guest speaker for the event.” It is a solemn privilege to be here as we pay tribute to the individual’s whose stories are a testament to dedication, bravery and integrity of our country’s law enforcement. The bravery that law enforcement officers display every day is immeasurable. No matter what the conversation is at the national level, we know the relationship between law enforcement and the public is re-ally formed at the community level.” Steimel said went onto talk about the positive impact officers make daily in their communities, with youth, and the public. He then asked for a moment of silence to honor Richardson and said, “I pray we never have to add another name to our memorial.” Simpson then sang Amazing Grace before he and Sheriff Russell paced forward with the wreath that is placed on the door of the memorial. Also present was retired long time sheriff and Fulton County Investigator Dale Weaver who was the only officer at the service who worked while Richardson served. Weaver also spoke 20 years a goat the service and recalled Richardson’s accident. In year’s past, Richardson’s parents, Jack and Tommie Richardson always placed the wreath Both have since passed. Tommie first in 2013, and Jack in2019. However this year, Richardson’s son, Craig was present and was a guest of honor in the front row. Craig said he just moved back to the area and was five when his father passed away and while he had vivid memories of the processional, he was very young when he lost his father. He said he always knew his father and grand-father were pillars of the community and that made him proud but explained he really liked to stay to himself more than his elders did. Sharp County Sheriff Shane Russell and Chief Deputy Bart Simpson presented Richard-son with plagues in honor of his gather’s service. After Highland Band Director Greg Bruner played a chilling rendition of Taps and the benediction was given, the crowd waited respectfully as each officer present took a moment to salute the monument and show their respect to Richard-son and their brothers and sisters in law enforcement before solemnly filing out of the ceremony. On May 21,1993,Richardson was dis-patched to assist a fellow officer who was in a vehicle pursuit. While in route, the Cave City officer collided with another motorist. The accident occurred approximately one mile south of Evening Shade on Highway 167, when the passing motorist turned left in front of Richardson’s patrol car. Richardson was married in 1986 and had two children, Craig and Leah. He started working as a volunteer firefighter at Cave City before graduating from the police academy at the age of 28.Richardson is the only police officer to be killed in the line of duty in Sharp County. Richardson’s family said many times in inter-views before their passing that their son always wanted to work in public service and becoming a police officer fulfilled his dream. Although they worried about him and concern for his chosen career path, both of his parents said, on many occasions how proud they were of his accomplishments in serving his community. Across the country,60 of the law enforcement officers were feloniously killed by gunfire in the line of duty in 2022, according to new, preliminary data from the FBI. That’s down nearly 18 percent from 2021, from 73officers killed. But the number of officers deaths in 2022was still high com-pared to 2019, when48 were feloniously killed and 2020,when 46 officers were killed during a crime. The FBI recorded12 ambush attacks in2022 that led to officers’ deaths. That’s a 50 percent increase in ambushes from2021, when there were eight. Sadly, according to the FBI’s most recent statistics, the majority of line-of-duty deaths of officers were in the south last year.