A Jacksonville police officer hurt in the line of duty during a 2012 traffic accident was one of several law enforcement professionals honored during a recent ceremony conducted during the Arkansas Attorney General’s 2013 Law Enforcement Summit.
Jacksonville Officer Daniel DiMatteo was the honor in the AG’s Second District. Officers from other parts of the state were honored for their achievements in law enforcement.
DiMatteo was at the scene of an accident on March 19, 2012, when he and two others were struck by a minivan. DiMatteo, Fire Capt. Donald Jones and Firefighter Jason Bowmaster were hit. Jones was killed and Bowmaster seriously injured. Despite also being hurt, DiMatteo gave directions to the scene over the radio to responding officers, medics and firefighters. After extensive rehab and multiple surgeries, DiMatteo returned to work in December.
While DiMatteo took the honor for the Second District, a Bryant police officer injured while exchanging gunfire with a wanted fugitive received the top honor.
Officer Scott Johnson was named Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Four other law enforcement officers were recognized as outstanding officer for their respective congressional districts.
Johnson was responding to an alarm at a Bryant retail store at about 11 p.m. on April 2 when he discovered a man who was sought for first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in Mattoon, Ill. When encountered by Johnson, the man fired a gun at the officer, striking Johnson twice in his left hand and once in his shoulder. The officer returned fire and the suspect was killed.
“Despite being shot, Officer Johnson called for help on his radio to make his fellow officers aware of this dangerous situation,” Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said. “He faced a violent attack with professionalism and bravery, and he should be an example to any law enforcement officer.”
The other officers officers recognized:
— First District: Wildlife Officer Block Meyer of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Meyer was one of the first law enforcement officers to arrive at the scene when a woman became trapped in her vehicle because of rising flood waters in Wynne on June 17. Meyer waded into water that was rapidly rising and was already five feet deep in some places. Along with another officer, Meyer was able to pull down the vehicle’s window enough so that the woman could be rescued and taken to safety.
— Third District: Cpl. Richard Rivera of the Sebastian County sheriff’s office.
Rivera defused a dangerous situation on May 5 while responding to a domestic disturbance call. When they arrived at the residence, officers found a man holding his mother at knifepoint. After the man refused to drop the knife, Rivera disabled him by shooting the man in the shoulder. Rivera was able to rescue the hostage.
— Fourth District: Officer Scott Hurd of the Hope Police Department.
Hurd was recognized for heroic actions for performing life-saving CPR on a Hope resident on July 26, 2012. While waiting for an ambulance to arrive, the resident lost consciousness and had no pulse. Through CPR, Hurd was able to revive him.
In addition to the Officer of the Year recognitions, McDaniel paid special tribute to those Arkansas law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty. They were posthumously recognized with special commendations for valor.
The recipients of valor tributes were: Scott County Sheriff Cody Carpenter, Wildlife Officer Joel Campora of Waldron, Deputy Hans Fifer of the Faulkner County sheriff’s office, Fifth Judicial District Drug Task Force Director Larry Johnson, Cpl. Terry Johnson of the Sebastian County sheriff’s office, and Officer William Michael McGary of the Conway Police Department.