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Two Arkansas State Troopers will share the 2023 State Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award, which is given annually to recognize police officers who go above and beyond the call of duty. This award and other statewide awards were presented by Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin during ceremonies today at the Benton Events Center.
This year, Senior Corporal David Smothers and Special Agent Matt Foster were selected.
In July of 2023, Smothers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle on I-40. While talking to the occupants of the vehicle, a man and woman, Smothers noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. After searching the vehicle, Smothers found a fully automatic pistol, more than 42 grams of marijuana, methamphetamine, and a fully automatic firearm. Additional items located during the search led Smothers to suspect the female was possibly being trafficked. Smothers contacted Special Agent Matt Foster who has extensive training in recognizing and identifying victims of human trafficking.
Foster conducted a lengthy interview with the woman, where she admitted to being trafficked across multiple states since February of 2023. Foster was able to get her admitted into a facility that specialized in recovery from human trafficking and drug use. When she was interviewed by Foster, she said that what she wanted most was to have a normal life, where she could do simple things like watch television with her child.
Smothers recognized the signs that she was being trafficked and took the care that was necessary for a positive outcome. In August, a federal agency notified ASP that the weapon Smothers seized was linked to two unsolved murders in Louisiana.
Smothers and Foster put the victim first in this investigation, which saved her life.
During the ceremony, both Smothers and Foster were also awarded Northwest Regional Officer of the Year, and Senior Special Agent Aundrae Mack was named Southeast Regional winner.
In all, Troopers from 31 of Arkansas’ 75 counties were recognized and awarded county-level Law Enforcement Officer of Year. These Troopers, along with officers from local and other state agencies, were recognized for dedication to their communities where they are assigned to serve.
Troopers who received County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year:
Trooper Zenda Staab
Trooper First Class Justin Starnes
Trooper Christian Morphis
Trooper Richard Drum
Trooper First Class TreVaughn Moore
Corporal Adam Pinner
Trooper First Class Tanner Middlecoff
Corporal Chris Short
Trooper Garrett Byrd
Trooper First Class Jimmy Plyler Jr.
Trooper Tyler Grant
Trooper Tyler Langley
Trooper First Class Mason Redding
Sergeant Justin Nowlin
Special Agent Anthony Hill
Special Agent Sean Riegle
Senior Corporal David Smothers (Northwest Regional Winner)
Trooper Isaac Lawson
Senior Special Agent Aundrae Mack (Southeast Regional Winner)
Trooper Cody Martin
Trooper Solomon Phifer
Special Agent Rodney Davenport
Special Agent Scott Troy
Trooper First Class Tommy Fitzgerald
Special Agent Matt Foster (Northwest Regional Winner)
Corporal Nicholas Poulsen
Corporal Mike Lance
Corporal Josh Porter
Corporal Moye E. Hawkins
Trooper Justin Harper
Corporal Kurt Ziegenhorn