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Caught Serving: Trooper Going the Extra Mile for a Stranded Motorist

Courtesy of Governor Asa Hutchinson

Today I am going to tell the story of an Arkansas State Trooper who put his own safety at risk to serve and protect a driver through a good deed that a Weather Channel reporter videotaped and posted online.

The trooper’s action was business as usual for state troopers and police officers. But as the Weather Channel photographer said, you don’t often have the chance to photograph the good work of police officers for others to see.

The trooper that Charles Peek saw in action is Richard Surrette, who patrols in Northwest Arkansas. One day in mid-May, Trooper Surette went to the aid of a driver who was stranded at Mile Marker 78 on Interstate 49 near Rogers.

When Trooper Surrette arrived, Jim Dacus was standing beside his car preparing to change his tire. Troopers are not required to assist with flat tires. They direct traffic and generally ensure the tire changer is safe. But Trooper Surrette says he has changed hundreds of tires. So he changed the tire.

Trooper Surrette, whose father also was in law enforcement, started his career as a Benton County deputy, where he rose to the rank of corporal.

The driver with the flat tire, Jim Dacus, is a 75-year-old veteran who grew up in Wynne and served as an Air Force intelligence officer during the Vietnam War.

By the time Charles Peek happened upon the scene, the tire was changed, but he taped Trooper Surrette talking to Mr. Dacus through the driver’s window, and filmed their smiles and handshake.

Mr. Peek posted the film to his Twitter page with these words: “MUST SEE! I saw Trooper Surrette changing the tire for this motorist. He finished just as I got turned around to video. Police are doing many good things but not often ‘caught’ on video. Thank you, Trooper Surrette!”

State Police Director Colonel Bill Bryant recently spoke to a law enforcement group in Seattle, where Arkansas State Trooper Spencer Morris was honored as a Trooper of the Year. Colonel Bryant noted that 500 Arkansas State Troopers patrol more than 16 thousand miles of state highways every day, and they frequently stop to serve the citizens, whether it’s changing a flat tire or listening for a minute to someone’s concern. They  are part of the fabric that holds local communities together. They are among the best trained law enforcement officers in the country, dedicated and always ready to serve. They set aside risks each day to make their state a safer and better place to call home.

Trooper Morris, by the way, was honored for pursuing a stolen car even after the suspect fired a weapon and shot the trooper in the chest. Fortunately, Trooper Morris was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Even though Trooper Surrette’s assistance was a routine tire change, he knows first-hand that even routine tasks can end badly. Years ago, as a Benton County deputy, he investigated a fatal accident at the same intersection where he helped Mr. Dacus. The victim that night was struck and killed by a car as he changed a flat tire.

Officers protect us because that is what they love to do. They will tell you they are just doing their job. Thank you Richard Surrette, Spencer Morris, and all your co-officers at all levels of law enforcement who care for us by simply doing your job.

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