Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson taking a moment to honor and remember Stone County Deputy Sheriff Mike Stephen
I’d like to take a moment to remember Stone County Deputy Sheriff Mike Stephen, who was killed in the line of duty on July 18. Sergeant Stephen was responding to a report of domestic violence. He did his duty, went to the home, and when he arrived, a gun fired from inside the house killed him.
Public service was the center of Deputy Stephen’s life. He was a deputy sheriff and also chief of the Pineville Fire Department. Sergeant Stephen’s death is a reminder that every call or traffic stop is a risk for our public servants.
What can we do as a state to provide greater support to protect our police officers? That is the question.
As a state, we are looking diligently to identify areas where we can strengthen training and add resources. We want to do all that we can to see that our officers return home to their families.
One of our recent investments in law enforcement is the $1 million we allocated for the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training. We did this to improve our training facilities.
This year, I signed into law Act 660, which members of the 92nd General Assembly passed to provide enhanced 9-1-1 service throughout the state. The bill also provides for upgrades and maintenance of our Arkansas Wireless Information Network. Both of these systems are essential links of communication between first responders and their offices.
We have allocated money to finish construction of a driving track so that officers can improve their skills for driving in hazardous situations.
We have built a new headquarters for State Police in Northwest Arkansas, which will open this fall. We allocated money to open the state’s third crime lab, which shares the space with the new state police building. The crime lab staff is setting up equipment now.
As a show of support and honor for the families of those officers such as Sergeant Stephen who died in the line of duty, my administration raised the benefit from the Fallen Officers Fund from $500 to $5,000.
With my background as a U.S. attorney, as director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and as a Homeland Security undersecretary, my respect for law-enforcement is great. I have seen first-hand the dangers that law-enforcement officers face every day.
To the statewide family of police officers who are mourning the death of Sergeant Stephen: The leaders of Arkansas support you. To Sergeant Stephen’s wife and children, to his parents and extended family: We share your sorrow. We are grateful for Mike Stephen’s devotion. We find comfort in knowing officers such as him put on the uniform every day. - Governor Asa Hutchinson