It is with a heavy heart that I post this open letter to the officers of our jurisdiction, the brothers and sisters of our profession and to the residents of our city. Today, an Arkansas brother of our thin blue line paid the ultimate sacrifice, another has been wounded, and a beloved canine partner is missing, presumed to be wounded. Earlier today, Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Bill Cooper succumbed to a mortal gunshot wound he received this morning while responding to a call for service. Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells was injured by weapon’s fire as well and Greenwood Police Department K-9 Kina is believed to have been injured and is being searched for.
To Corporal Cooper’s family, please know our prayers are with you and our hearts break alongside yours. To Chief Spells, God bless you sir for the risks you undertook. To every officer who responded to the scene, God bless you for refusing to allow the risks to sway you from your duty. Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck, I pray for you as you lead your department through this tragedy and the healing process to follow. It will not be easy; it will not be quick, but it will come. You are not alone. The men and women of the Siloam Springs Police Department – your brothers and sisters of this line, will stand with you and the members of your department, and we walk beside you.
To the women and men of this department. I know your character. I know the love you have for this city, its residents and for each other. I know your love for the Constitution and the rule of law. Despite what may be said about our profession occasionally, you keep the faith. Each of us has a spark in our spirit that leads us to this profession. We cannot explain it to others, it is too deep in our hearts for words to describe. I know you will see the stories on this incident, I know your family will as well. It will spark conversations and worries, doubts and strong emotions. And yet, afterward, you will don the uniform; shine your badge; re-dedicate yourself as a peacekeeper and servant of the public good; and you will stand your watch. I cannot adequately explain the pride I have for each of you. I am humbled working with individuals of such quality.
The thin blue line is just that. It is a thin line of people; just people. They are brothers, sisters, moms, dads, uncles, aunts and grandparents who make a conscious choice. They choose to serve and protect others. They risk their very lives, not just for people they know, but for those they do not. Officers, do not be dismayed, do not falter. It is for this time, and this place, that you wear your badge. Finally to the members of this community, thank you for your support, your prayers and your friendship. You give us strength, and we honor you for that.
Chief Jim Wilmeth