- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - Sheep Dog Impact Assistance of Central Arkansas has lauded a Texarkana, Arkansas, police corporal for outstanding service to his community as a law enforcement officer and protector of society.

The Texarkana Gazette (https://bit.ly/1TDOZ4B ) reports that TAPD Cpl. Les Munn was accorded the Sheep Dog of the Year Award for 2015 Wednesday morning in the patrol room at Bi-State Justice Center by Commander Jeff Watts, who represents the region.

Upon winning the regional award, Munn was submitted for consideration in receiving the National Sheep Dog of the Year Award, Cpl. Kristi Bennett, TAPD spokeswoman, said.

“Cpl. Munn has been chosen as the Sheep Dog of the Year at the national level as well,” Bennett revealed.

“TAPD is extremely proud of Cpl. Munn and his accomplishments,” she said.

Munn will travel to the Sheep Dog Impact Assistance national office in Rogers, Arkansas, to receive the national accolade in late April, Bennett said.

According to the Sheep Dog Impact Assistance website, sheepdogia.org, SDIA is a nonprofit organization made up of society’s protectors - or sheep dogs - which is made up of military, law enforcement, fire and rescue, and EMS personnel. The organization was founded in 2010 to “engage, assist and empower” members and fellow Sheep Dogs with “continued service opportunities and provide the camaraderie that may be missing after a shift or tour of duty ends.”

SDIA gives its volunteers and Sheep Dog members a chance to satisfy an “innate desire to serve and help those around them,” the website states, with “impact assistance” to communities through Disaster Response Missions along with providing other opportunities and programs that help members find fulfillment and a renewed sense of purpose through serving and helping others.

To be considered for Sheep Dog of the Year, and more especially the national accolade, one must have built up and modeled an exemplary career that sets a person apart from others in their service.

The SDIA website states, “Although a single heroic incident may be worthy of consideration, special consideration is given to those nominees who have distinguished themselves and their profession throughout their careers.”

Munn, who has been working with TAPD for 14 years, said being recognized for service by the SDIA organization was truly an honor and so was being able to represent his department.

“To be mentioned with the men and women of so many great professional fields with the effort these people show in their everyday duties is very humbling,” Munn said. “I like to think I give it my all every day in my job duties and serving my community by doing whatever necessary to help those I serve and the preservation of life.

“I have been fortunate to be involved in many life-saving situations. To represent the men and women in law enforcement and Texarkana Arkansas, Police Department is one of the greatest honors I have ever had.”

TAPD is a progressive department always looking to improve, Munn said, adding that he is proud to be part of the Arkansas-side department that he feels has long been a benchmark for other agencies to strive for.

“Chief (Robert) Harrison has made it easy to work here by providing an encouraging work environment,” Munn said. “He puts his officers first and has created a family environment where officers can grow and seek out their potential in areas other than police work.”

Munn said he became a police officer because he wanted to serve. However, His biggest influence growing up was his grandfather, H.L. Munn, who served in World War II in the European theater.

Munn wanted to join the military like his grandfather, but had issues with his hearing.

“It sent me down a different road,” Munn said. “(My grandfather) had a true respect for police officers and people who serve.

“I wish he were here today to see what I have become.”

Munn decided he wanted to pursue a short career in Emergency Medical Services at 18 because he couldn’t hire on with law enforcement until age 21. John Warren, with the Columbia County Ambulance Service, was a big influence at that time, and he learned life-saving techniques that would help him in his future law enforcement career.

“I always felt police officers had the most immediate impact on the communities they served and are truly the first responders for every critical situation,” Munn said. “I wanted to be a part of that and be someone that could make a difference and give people hope for something better.”

Other than Munn’s grandfather, Warren and Harrison, Munn said other men he credits as heavy influences on the type of officer he became include Police Chief Royce Carpenter and Stan Kendall, formerly of Camden Police Department, Police Chief Robert Gorum of the Magnolia Police Department, and retired TAPD Sgt. Joe Bennett.

“These people have encouraged me and put me in the positions that have allowed me to have the most impact in others’ lives around me in my community,” Munn said.

“I started my career in with Camden Police Department, where I worked for three years,” Munn said. “I had a short stint with Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office. When my grandfather became sick, I moved back to Magnolia to be closer to family and spend more time around him.”

For those two years, he worked for the police department in his hometown of Magnolia.

In 2003, after his grandfather passed, Munn said he moved away from his hometown to Texarkana, where he found himself impressed with the Arkansas-side police department.

“I wanted to expand my opportunities in law enforcement, and TAPD was the top department in the state for training and experience,” he said.

Reflecting on the past 14 years, Munn said TAPD has not disappointed him in allowing him to do other types of work that he enjoys, such as providing security details and other fun community events.

“TAPD has given me the opportunity to work with the PRIDE program and be involved in community events that I really enjoy,” he said. “Special Operations gives me the opportunity to work the fair and parades. We handle dignitary security, and this has allowed me to work security details for Mike Huckabee, Gov. (Asa) Hutchison, Gov. Mike Beebe, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and musicians such as Chase Rice, Easton Corbin, Arkansas head football coaches Houston Nutt, Bobby Petrino and Brett Beliema. I have been involved in the Live United Bowl and responsible for the security of the teams and escorts for the games.”

Special Operations also means working with Criminal Investigations Unit and Narcotics Task Force while assisting patrol when needed, he said. Munn also helps with department training and has recently enjoyed helping fellow officer Rick Cockrell in teaching a Citizens Response to Active Shooter course.

“This allows us to interact with the public and citizens in teaching them how to properly respond to an active shooter in their place of business, church or schools,” Munn said. “This also allows us to answer questions about police officers and how to interact with them. I find it very rewarding to be able to put a personal touch on the public’s view of us, especially with the negative media we get these days.”

In his time off, Munn enjoys playing and being a father to his 4-year-old son Brodie and playing drums at his church.

“Most don’t know that I play drums and really enjoy that,” Munn said. “I hope that retire one day and play music more often and spend time being a father to my son.”

Munn said helping children is a cause close to his heart and that he wants them to know that the police are there to protect, not hurt them.

“I get upset when I am in public and hear a parent say, ‘You see that police officer? He is going to get you if you act bad.’ I am quick to correct them and let them know we are here for them,” Munn said. “I want kids to feel that can approach us and talk to us without feat. So many parents actually teach their kids that we are bad and mean and (that they) should not talk to us, which is the wrong thing to do.”

“I wonder how many kids and people we could have helped over the years if that way of thinking hadn’t been taught to them since they were so young. I hope we can break that barrier and grow our relationships with the younger generation.”


Information from: Texarkana Gazette, https://www.texarkanagazette.com

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