‘Back the Blue’ event draws law enforcement supporters to Riverside Park

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Law enforcement officials along with police officers and deputies from throughout Independence County were honored Tuesday night at an event held at Batesville’s Riverside Park.

Brook Taylor, one of the founders of “Back the Blue of Independence County,” told White River Now in August that community support of local law enforcement is greatly needed, and that it’s important to show officers and officials that what they do each and every day is valued and appreciated by citizens.

Batesville native and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was the scheduled keynote speaker for the event, but organizers said the AG had been called to Washington, D.C. In her absence, Rutledge’s Chief of Staff Cory Cox spoke to the crowd.

Cox read a letter from the attorney general to the audience, estimated to number over 200 attendees, in which Rutledge expressed her disappointment in not being able to attend, but also expressed solidarity with her hometown and county in backing the blue.

“I could not be more proud of my hometown of Batesville for organizing this event to show your appreciation and support to the brave law enforcement officers who serve this area,” Rutledge said in the letter.

Jami Cook, the director of the Arkansas Division on Law Enforcement Standards and Training, spoke to the crowd about the importance of those enforcing the rule of law in these recent times.

“A society without law enforcement implodes,” said Cook. “Just look at the stories across our great nation where we have seen violent criminals wreak havoc on cities — cities where law-enforcement was not allowed to do their jobs.”

Kellye Barber, the deputy prosecuting attorney for the 16th Judicial District, also spoke to the audience, reminding those in attendance that representatives of law enforcement deserving appreciation also included dispatchers, jailers, administrators such police chiefs and sheriffs, parole and probation officers, bailiffs, office staffs, and of course, patrolmen, noting such officers are “the first spoke in the wheel of justice.”

“Without them, we cannot prosecute those who break the law. Without them, that wheel of justice simply does not turn,” Barber said.

Other dignitaries at the event included State Sen. James Sturch, State Rep. Stu Smith, Independence County Sheriff Shawn Stephens, and Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh. A Survival Flight helicopter also made an appearance over the park, landing nearby.

Donations were accepted at the Back the Blue event that will go toward officer training. Back the Blue of Independence County also has a fund-raising page that can be found here.


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