Arkansas State Trooper Spencer Morris has been selected National Trooper of the Year by the leadership of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, State, and Provincial Division. The prestigious award was presented last night during a ceremony in Seattle, Washington, before an audience of law enforcement officers from across the nation.
Trooper Morris, 34, of Crittenden County, is a graduate of the 2018 Arkansas State Police Training Academy and was among a group of four regional state trooper finalists who collectively comprise the epitome of preeminence among law enforcement officers across the nation. Trooper Morris is assigned to the Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, headquartered at Forrest City. Trooper Morris was recognized for his heroic actions of December 16, 2021, during an attempted traffic stop that ended in Memphis, Tennessee. While working his assigned interstate patrol duties, Morris answered the United States Marshals Service radio call requesting assistance in the apprehension of a wanted fugitive from South Carolina, believed to be armed and considered dangerous, traveling through West Memphis along Interstate 55 headed toward Memphis.
Trooper Morris was the closest law enforcement officer in the area who would have been able to intercept the vehicle. At about 2:30 PM, Trooper Morris observed the suspect’s vehicle and began to position his patrol car for the traffic stop. As he closed in on the car, multiple gunshots from the suspect vehicle were directed at Trooper Morris, with one round striking him in the upper chest. Trooper Morris’ body armor slowed the round, causing a minor wound. Despite the injury and the imminent deadly threat to himself and other motorists traveling into Memphis, Trooper Morris began to return gunfire directed at the fleeing suspect.
As the pursuit approached the I-55 McLemore interchange, the suspect vehicle slowed and stopped; the wounded trooper radioed his location and requested assistance. Trooper Morris moved his patrol car to the roadside and, at a safe distance, exited his vehicle to take up a defensive position. Quickly local police officers joined Trooper Morris, along with paramedics, who extracted him from the scene, moving the wounded trooper to a nearby hospital where doctors determined the wound was non-life-threatening. With traffic diverted from the interstate, a SWAT team moved toward the suspect vehicle to find the wanted fugitive and another occupant still in the car, both deceased. Later, the same day, Trooper Morris was released from the hospital and taken to his home, where family surrounded the trooper, all thankful to be reunited.
In his comments to the Seattle audience, Colonel Bill Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, said, “Arkansas State Troopers patrol more than 16 thousand miles of state highways every day and along the way, they stop to serve the citizens, whether it’s to help change a flat tire, or just take a minute to listen to someone’s concerns or troubles.” “These men and women we know as Arkansas State Troopers are part of the fabric that holds local communities together,” Colonel Bryant said. “They are among the best-trained law enforcement officers in the country, dedicated and always ready to serve.” Colonel Bryant stated, “Trooper Spencer Morris is just one example of more than 500 other Arkansas state troopers, just like him, who set aside awesome risks to themselves each day to make their state a safer and better place to call home.”
Trooper Morris returned to active duty and continues patrolling the Arkansas highways in and around Crittenden County. It was 25 years ago  when an Arkansas State Trooper was last selected by IACP as National Trooper of the Year.
Featured image credit: Tony Webster/Flickr