The Hope Rotary Club honored a member of the Arkansas State Police at a recent meeting, naming ASP Corporal Pete Penney its Trooper of the Year.

The Hope Rotary Club honored a member of the Arkansas State Police at a recent meeting, naming ASP Corporal Pete Penney its Trooper of the Year. Lt. Brady Gore, of Troop G in Hope, presented the history of the incident that led Cpl. Penney to receive the Trooper of the Year Award. Captain Jeff Jester offered celebratory words to Penney and introduced his administrative assistant, Barbara Harvey. Gore then took the floor and explained the situation that Penney faced on March 23, 2012. “On March 23, 2012, Cpl. Penney was on patrol on U. S. 278 in Hempstead County near Ozan. Cpl. Penney's attention was drawn to a speeding vehicle traveling on U. S. 278. At approximately 9:34 p.m., Penney initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. The traffic stop began like hundreds of others that Cpl. Penney had made over the years. “There was the usual greeting, gathering of the documents, and then an odor of alcohol was detected by Cpl. Penney. He began administering the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests to the violator. The results of these tests, along with the violator's demeanor made it apparent to Penney that he would soon be placing the violator under arrest. “As Cpl. Penney began to place the suspect under arrest, a scuffle soon escalated into a full-blown fight ensued. Penney and the suspect fought for several minutes, trading punches on the roadside, in the ditch, and back on the roadside. Several vehicles went by at this time, but no one stopped.” According to Gore, there were several calls placed to alert troopers of the situation. “Both men, now at the front of Cpl. Penney's patrol unit, disengage and the suspect returned to the interior of his vehicle,” Gore recounted. “As Penney approached the suspect's vehicle, the suspect exits the vehicle, producing a white plastic sack in his right hand. “As quickly as the bag is produced, a ball of fire and a loud noise emits from under the bag. The suspect fired a single shot from a .357 Magnum revolver, striking Cpl. Penney in the abdomen at less than three feet. Cpl. Penney's body armor absorbed the bullet, nullifying penetration of the bullet into his body. “However, the trauma associated with the shot was still horrifying. Penney was able to keep his presence of mind and will to survive at the forefront of his reaction and thought process. Cpl. Penney immediately returned fire from his .45 caliber sidearm as he retreated to cover and moved behind the headlights which were illuminating him to the suspect. “Penney was able to strike the suspect with three rounds as the shootout continued. The suspect kept firing at Penney until all six rounds were fired from the suspect's revolver. Even as the suspect was incapacitated, he continued to try and drag himself back to his vehicle. Even as help arrived, and having sustained a gunshot, Cpl. Penney was able to provide cover and backup as the suspect was handcuffed and could no longer pose a threat. “Cpl. Penney was hospitalized and treated for his wound. The suspect was also hospitalized and treated for his wounds. The suspect has since been placed back in the Arkansas Dept. of Corrections awaiting trial for his crimes. Cpl. Penney has since returned to his Highway Patrol duties and has just finished training one of Troop G's newest troopers. “Some say that Cpl. Penney was just doing his job that late evening,” Gore said. “We agree. However, when it turned bad, Cpl. Pete Penney had the intestinal fortitude and will to survive. He tapped into all of his training, both State Police and military, and saved his own life and potentially countless others by refusing to let a hardened criminal, who had killed before, leave his grip. “With that being said,” Gore said, “it is unanimous at State Police Troop G that Cpl. Pete M. Penney is our selection for the 2012 Hope Rotary Club Arkansas State Police officer of the year.” Lt. Gore also recognized Dr. Lawrence Bigongiari, who began the officer recognition programs approximately six years ago. A representative of the Hope Police Department, a representative of the Hempstead County Sheriff's Department and a member of the Arkansas State Police are recognized each year with a certificate and a monetary gift to show appreciation for their service.