In law enforcement there is a thin blue line that stands solid between two factions: the sheep and the wolves — the vulnerable community and the criminals who threaten its safety.
Every day officers don the uniform, tighten their vests and strap their weapons to their sides to stand sentry on that line.
“We called him Sheep Dog,” Senior Deputy Wayne Robb of the Scott County sheriff’s office said, then paused to take a shaky breath.
Early Wednesday, Robb’s longtime friend and fellow officer Cpl. Bill Cooper was shot in the neck when he answered a disturbance call in Hackett. He died at 1:15 p.m. at Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith.
Cooper, 66, was a 15-year veteran with the Sebastian County sheriff’s office. He was married with three adult children and lived in the Greenwood area. He was a former Marine.
“He stood on that thin blue line,” Robb said. “We protect the sheep from the wolves, and he gave his life for it.”
Dozens of Cooper’s law-enforcement brothers and sisters stood sentry at the hospital as Cooper fought for his life and remained after he passed away, offering their strength and support to his family.
On Thursday, that same contingent of officers began the 160-mile drive to escort Cooper’s body to the state Crime Laboratory in Little Rock.
At each exit along the Interstate 40 route, the procession grew in size with officers from police stations and sheriff’s offices around the state and others who traveled to Arkansas from other states, including Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee.
“The interstate was practically shut down,” said Sebastian County sheriff’s office spokesman Philip Pevehouse, adding that calls from around the state and nation continue to pour in.
“It just reinforces the unity of the brotherhood of law enforcement,” Pevehouse said.
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