Respect is due
Arkansas flags flew at half staff last week in honor of two men who gave their life in service of others.
One was Jason Lang, a West Memphis firefighter. The other was Sgt. Josh Caudell, a K-9 handler with the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
Sgt. Caudell was shot and killed during a search for a suspect on Feb. 28 in Pulaski County.
When I read his name in the first news reports of his death, I immediately knew who Sgt. Caudell was. I went to high school with his dad, Michael. And Sgt. Caudell — who I knew then as Josh — played tee-ball with my oldest son, Ronnie.
That was 25 years ago, of course, and I don’t remember much about Josh specifically. Still, I’m saddened by his death. He leaves behind a wife and three children and I can’t imagine how their lives will ever be the same.
I was also struck by the similarities between Sgt. Caudell and my son — who’s now a rookie officer with the Sherwood Police Department.
Ronnie started his law enforcement career as a detention officer and currently serves in the Army National Guard. Sgt. Caudell also served in the National Guard.
As the father of two sons who are employed in law enforcement — my younger son, Ryan, is a former Carroll County detention officer and patrol deputy and is now a probation/parole officer — I try not to dwell on the potential dangers they might face.
But the truth is, those dangers are a fact of life in their chosen profession. They accept that, and my job as a dad is to support their decisions as grown men.
Still, when a tragedy such as Sgt. Caudell’s death occurs, it’s difficult not to think about how it could have been one of my sons.
It could have been any law enforcement officer trying to protect and serve his or her community.
Over the past several years, law enforcement officers everywhere have been under added scrutiny because of the misdeeds of a few in their ranks. Those misdeeds sometimes create their own kind of tragedies, and they shouldn’t be overlooked.
But we — all of us — also need to remember that those men and women go to work every day willing to risk their very lives to protect us. Sgt. Josh Caudell and all those like him deserve our appreciation and respect.