BATESVILLE It’s not an everyday occurrence that an Arkansas state trooper draws his gun, and it is a rarity that he may have to fire at a suspect.
Every morning, Claudette Jones said, she prays that her husband will come home safely.
“I pray every morning that God takes care of him while he’s working and brings him home safe,” she said.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel presented Cpl. David Jones with the District 1 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award on Oct. 2 for his bravery in the line of duty.
“Cpl. Jones’ actions and careful approach of an armed and intoxicated motorist undoubtedly prevented fellow officers and Independence County sheriff’s deputies from serious harm,” McDaniel wrote in an email. “Had Cpl. Jones not kept a cool head, there’s no telling the damage this dangerous suspect could have done.”
It was Nov. 22, 2011, and David was working his regular shift as an Arkansas state trooper. It was about 10 p.m. when he came to the Arkansas State Police Batesville office to do some paperwork. He heard on the radio that there was an intoxicated suspect making threats in a residential area on the north end of town.
“I ran up there to see if I could assist,” said David, who works in Independence County for Troop B.
He said Independence County Sheriff’s Office deputies were on the scene and had spotted the vehicle and the driver had been identified as James Chapman Perkins of Newark. As the officers approached Chapman’s vehicle, he sped away, hitting the trooper’s car.
“Then a pursuit started,” David said.
Chapman crashed into a ditch at the intersection of Arkansas 233 and 69 and began firing at the officers.
“He wrecked by the Morefield cutoff,” David said, “and the next thing I knew, I saw a rifle come out of the driver’s side window. … I’m not going to lie — I was scared. It was hard to process what was actually happening. I fired my weapon until I saw him fall back in the seat. Then I thought he was no longer a threat.”
Perkins survived, and after an investigation, David said it was determined that he was justified in firing his weapon at Perkins.
David said Independence County deputies Shawn Stephens, Colby Markum and Ben Keener were also involved in the incident.
“I was unaware of the incident that night,” Claudette said. “I never listen to a police radio because I would be a nervous wreck. However, that night, God answered my prayer and brought David home safely. It was the next morning before I knew anything, when David was telling me about the incident. I just got goose bumps. David is a great officer, a good man, but most of all, he’s a great husband.”
David said in his 12 years as a state trooper, that was the first time he had even had to use his firearm. He said although he may have been scared, his training kicked in, and he just did what he had to do.
David said he was on vacation when he found out he was up for the award.
“I was proud to be nominated, and I didn’t think much more about it,” David said modestly.
Then he said about 30 days later, he got an email notifying him that he had won the award for his district.
“I was extremely excited when I heard the news that David got Officer of the Year in District 1,” Claudette said. “David takes his job very seriously. I’m very proud of David. He gives so much not only to his job, but to his family.”
The job of an Arkansas state trooper is to be an assisting agency to local law enforcement and to enforce state highway laws.
“Every day is a challenge,” David said. “You never know what you’re going to run into or what you’re going to see.”
But he said it’s also a very rewarding job.
“I get an opportunity to help someone who needs help,” he said.
Although there is one part of the job that never gets easier, and that’s giving death notices to family members of someone who has died.
“You have a job to do, and you have to stay focused,” he said. “Then when you get home that night, you start thinking about it.”
David spent eight years in the Air Force before becoming a state trooper, and he said he believes his military experience helped prepare him for his law-enforcement position.
Staff writer Jeanni Brosius can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.