Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor/Publisher

A bright sunny sky accentuated the colors of Old Glory on Tue., May 7, as police officers from across the county gathered to show their respect and remember the sacrifices of their brothers and sisters in blue who have fallen in the line of duty.

This year was different, as they all honored one who was thought to be Sharp County’s single fallen officer, Jeff Richardson. This was the thirty first anniversary of his May 21,1993 death. This year, another name was added to the monument for a man who gave his life 110 year ago during a gun battle at the Hargrove’s store at Center. Rufus King Arnold was working with other officers from Izard County in an attempt to apprehend bank robbers who had robbed a bank in Missouri and attempted to rob one in Mountain Home. The men were at the hotel when Arnold was killed and another deputy was injured. 

Extensive research from news articles published at the time and accounts by person’s on the scenes as well of recollections years later by locals who recalled Arnold’s death were accessed by this news agency to prove Arnold’s role in the attempted apprehension that led to his death. After 110 years, Sheriff Shane Russell was able to get Arnold’s name forever etched into stone, a small sentiment to the county’s appreciation for his sacrifice while woking as part of a law enforcement posse to apprehend the dangerous criminals.   

The local ceremony is part of a national holiday that has been observed for over 48 years. Sharp County’s Cpl. Josh Williams directed the Sharp County Sheriff’s Department officers with the American Flag as  Lt. Bryce Trivitt advanced the colors before the service began with Chief Deputy Kevin “Bart” Simpson singing the National Anthem. 

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 police officers killed in the line of duty in 2023.

After the invocation, Sheriff Shane Russell welcomed attendees to the service to recognize, honor and remember Cave City Sgt. Richardson for his service.  He then told of the fateful day Arnold lost his life at Center and recognized the Arnold family who were present along with Richardson’s son, Craig and his fiance. 

Russell then introduced State Representative Bart Schulz, who served as the guest speaker for the event. Schulz spoke of the day to day struggles law enforcement officers face in every choice they make.  This year, two members of the  Lyon College  Pipes band were present and played a chilling rendition of Amazing Grace and God Bless America. The Sheriff and Simpson then led the group in placing the wreath upon the gate of the Fallen Officer Memorial. Each officer then filed forward and saluted the monument in respect to their fallen comrades. 

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. 

In year’s past, Richardson’s parents, Jack and Tommie Richardson always placed the wreath Richardson’s son Craig was five when his father passed away and while he had vivid memories of him, the memories of his death still haunt him. He said he always knew his father and grandfather were pillars of the community and that made him proud  

2024 Highland graduate and outstanding band member Lane Evans then played Taps before the benediction was given by Jackie Pickett. 

On May 21,1993, Richardson was dispatched 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 into the path 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’s family said many times in interviews 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.

The Arnold family were all proud of their ancestor being placed on the monument for his sacrifice. Present were his great grandson Frankie Arnold, as well as several great nephews and a great great niece, Shalyn Arnold Lane. 

To read the entire story on Arnold visit https://src-news.com/2024/02/days-gone-by-outlaw-kills-local-deputy/

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