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Re: “Reflections on 9/11: Hot Springs mayor-style

Radical centrist--I posted the article a few posts above.

Posted by Pam Lowe Greenway on 09/12/2011 at 6:51 PM

Re: “Reflections on 9/11: Hot Springs mayor-style

Area residents honored for aiding police officer
DON THOMASON AND BRIAN CALDWELL
The Sentinel-Record


Three Hot Springs citizens have been honored for their recent actions that possibly saved the life of a Hot Springs police officer.
Keith Merritt and his wife, Sherry, a former lieutenant with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, were specifically honored at a ceremony Thursday night hosted by the Garland Good Government Group, for assisting police office LeeAnn Clem, who was attacked by a man on the night of Aug. 12.
The couple and Christopher Ware, who made the initial 911 call, received awards and letters of commendation from Hot Springs Police Chief David Flory, Hot Springs Mayor Ruth Carney and representatives of the Garland County Quorum Court Tuesday night at the Hot Springs Board of Directors meeting.
According to official reports, Ware called the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center around 10:35 p.m. Aug. 12 to report a disorderly man “actively engaged in acts of vandalism and other crimes in the 500 block of Ouachita Avenue.”
Clem, who was in the area, responded to the call and was attacked by the man, who attempted to take her weapon away and was heard by the 911 operator making statements that he would kill Clem, Flory said.
According to Flory, the Merritts were driving in the area, saw the encounter between Clem and her assailant, and they, along with Ware, “promptly assisted officer Clem and effectively subdued the suspect until other backup officers arrived, secured the suspect and arrested him.”
Blake Robertson, a member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee that researched the needs and requirements for a new Garland County Detention Center, said at Thursday night’s ceremony, “You always wonder what you would do in a situation like that, and it’s cool to know that we know what these two did.”
In her report, which was read by Bob Driggers, GGGG chairman, Clem said she asked the man if he had any weapons and to show her his hands. At that point, the man said, “Yes, b---h, I do. You’re gonna die tonight. B----, I’m gonna kill you,” and rushed the officer.
“He closed the distance between us quickly and I could not back away or pull my duty weapon,” Clem said in her report. “The male grabbed my gun, which was in my holster, and began pulling on it in an attempt to get it away from me.”
The report notes that Clem told the man to stop and he began to punch her in the face, and put her in a headlock and started to choke her. He was able to remove the gun from her holster, continued to yell and ask the officer to shoot him.
Carney told the couple Thursday night, “You remind me of my sons, because if my sons had been on the planes, there would not have been a 9/11. They always tell me about what they would do in that situation.
“We need more people like this who care less about their safety and more about the good of the community. It is wonderful that two people saw a situation and decided to jump in to help,” she said. “Thank you so much for making our city a better place to live in.”
“Keith and I do not feel like heroes,” Sherry Merritt said. “Keith and I did what we would instinctively do when we saw someone in trouble. If an officer is in need, you go.
“As a former police officer, I would not tell just anyone to jump out at a situation like that. We just did what we had to do.”
Driggers said, “We felt it was important to honor them because it was so extraordinary. They could have just driven on their way and then called 911. How many people out of 100 would have done that?”
During Tuesday night’s ceremony, Flory said, “Quite frankly, in a profession where we don’t always make everybody happy, yet in a profession where we do our best every hour of every day to help people who sometimes can’t help themselves, it’s not often enough that we pay tribute to those who make a difference in our lives.”
Flory said an average of 165 law enforcement officers are killed, and another 23,000 are injured, annually in the United States.
“It’s my honor to stand before you tonight to say that without the selfless acts and heroic actions of Mr. Ware, Mrs. Merritt and Mr. Merritt, the immediate outcome of officer Clem’s encounter with the subject may have been very different,” he said.
Reading a letter of commendation and recognition of heroic acts by citizens, Carney said, “On behalf of the board of directors of the city of Hot Springs, I publicly recognize, acknowledge and appreciate Christopher Ware, Keith Allen Merritt, and Sherry Merritt for their willingness to come to the aid of a fellow human being without giving thought to their own safety.”
“It’s not often we have the humble opportunity to thank people in our community for saving one of our own,” Flory said.
“As we embark this week on (remembering) 9/11, where we lost many brothers and sisters in public safety, we’ll all be pausing to give thanks for those men and women who gave their lives.
“But we’ll also be pausing this week to give thanks for those citizens who also gave an effort. We especially pause tonight to give these three people our most sincere appreciation, and I know all my officers in the room share that, and I know that officer Clem does.”
The assailant hung himself a couple days after the incident while he was in the Garland County Detention Center.

Posted by Pam Lowe Greenway on 09/12/2011 at 6:06 PM
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