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Arkansas lawmakers pay tribute to deceased officers

by Alex Thomas | December 22, 2022 at 3:33 a.m.
The body of Stuttgart Police Department Sgt. Donald "Scooby" Scoby returns to Stuttgart on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, from the state Crime Laboratory in Little Rock. About 50 law enforcement officers came from throughout Arkansas to travel the 60 miles to Turpin Funeral Home in Stuttgart. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Eplunus Colvin)

WASHINGTON -- Members of the state's congressional delegation Wednesday paid their respects to Arkansas law enforcement personnel who have died this year.

U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, as well as Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, gave remarks in their respective chambers about the lives of Stuttgart Police Sgt. Donald Scoby, Benton County Detective Paul Newell and Jonesboro police officer Vincent Parks.

"These individuals selflessly volunteer for this duty while accepting that the dangers of the job also continually put them in harm's way," Boozman, R-Rogers, said in a Senate floor speech. "It takes a special person to take on that responsibility, and that fact must never be lost on us."

Scoby, 45, died last Wednesday as law enforcement officers attempted to arrest a Stone County man. Jacob Coles Barnes of Mountain View fired shots at Scoby and another officer during a foot pursuit, according to police. Scoby had been with the police department for four years.

Barnes later died during an altercation with the Arkansas State Police SWAT team.

"Barnes met an end that is fair to say he deserved," said Cotton, R-Little Rock.

"This justice is insufficient to repair the far deeper injustice that he had inflicted on our state and on officer Scoby's comrades in arms, his family and his friends."

Scoby was a U.S. Army veteran and served with the Stuttgart Fire Department before joining the police force.

"He lived a noble life and died nobly, serving the community he loved and swore to protect," Cotton said. "He leaves a legacy and an example from which all Arkansans can draw inspiration."

Newell was taking part in an escort of a Wreaths Across America procession through Bentonville when he was involved in a traffic accident. According to the Arkansas Department of Public Safety, Newell was traveling on Walton Boulevard when he hit a curb, lost control of his motorcycle and struck a tractor-trailer.

Newell, 51, had served with the Benton County sheriff's office for 24 years. Womack noted Newell also was a military veteran and a volunteer member of the Gravette Fire Department.

"He wore the uniform knowing it brought risk, but it also brought the reward of keeping Arkansans safe," Womack said. "Detective Newell was one of the brave. He didn't pursue a career of comfort, but one where he faced danger, helped those in need and upheld the rule of law. He was devoted to being a guardian of the community he so loved."

Boozman said Newell's dedication to his community was apparent among those who worked with him.

"[Newell] was happy to engage with community members to foster positive relationships, participating in events like Shop with a Cop to spread Christmas cheer to children in need," the senator said.

Parks, 38, died in July after reporting to Camp Robinson for his first day of training. He had joined the Police Department in the prior month.

Questions about Parks' death triggered a criminal investigation that determined the death was accidental and caused by a "Sickle Cell trait" among other factors. Larry Jegley, the prosecuting attorney for the Sixth Judicial District, said the related investigative file revealed "concerning issues" with the culture surrounding the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy's training program.

Boozman said Parks' influence will live on through the people "he impacted and cared for."

"We are blessed to have brave men and women like patrolman Parks who are willing to wear the uniform and take the risks," he said.

Cotton said people will remember Parks for his kindness and joyfulness, shown by "an infectious smile and a positive attitude that could fill a room."

"May God bless and keep Vinny Parks, and may God bless and keep all of our heroic fallen officers," the senator said.

Print Headline: Lawmakers pay tribute to 3 fallen state officers


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