BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
Hero. How might we define a hero? When hero is said, such iconic figures as Superman, Spiderman, and Batman come to mind, but we realize that these aren’t heroes. Heroes are those that continue to make sacrifices for the welfare and intentional good of others and never expect any kind of recognition. A hero is an ordinary person facing extraordinary circumstances and acting with courage, honor, and self-sacrifice. This description perfectly fits the men and women of the Mena Police Department.
The Mena police motto is to ‘protect and serve’, something that is the driving force for the men and women of the department. Law enforcement officers are in the community for the purpose of keeping everyone safe, protecting citizens from being victims of crimes, and serving the overall welfare of the city. “Most police officers get into this business because they wanted to do their part, they wanted to help their community. Some people want to change their community by being a teacher, others through medicine, but we want to make this a safe place to live,” says Police Chief Brandon Martin.
Brandon Martin has been serving as Mena’s Police Chief since 2015, but has spent 20 plus years in law enforcement. He has served as a patrol officer and as a detective, both positions preparing him to lead the department now. “I know what it’s like for these other guys trying to do their job because I have had the opportunity to be where they are and I know how important their jobs are. That’s why I don’t ever like sitting behind this desk because I want to be working with them.” The department currently has 13 full time officers including the dispatcher, but has 9 reserves, which Brandon is excited about, “We are working on our third reserve class and we take a lot of pride in it. We are getting to train good reserves who are then going on to get full time jobs. We also like it because when we hire our reserves full time we know what kind of guys we are getting.” Each reserve class meets three nights a week and a Saturday for six weeks.
Mena is a great place for law enforcement to work, the community is very supportive of the work that is being done and that makes the work of police more manageable. “I have talked to other Chiefs and we are real fortunate to not have the problems that others do. Our support makes us want to work that much harder for the people in the community.” One of the ways that Martin and the other officers are trying to show their appreciation to the community is by continually building relationships with citizens. “I am always encouraging guys to take time to talk to people in town or when they are in a neighborhood to stop and visit. We want people to know that we are doing everything we can to protect them and that we care about the things they care about.” Martin and the other officers are working constantly to let the community know that they appreciate their support and to maintain good relationships with citizens.
Each day that the officers head out on the streets, they have one thing in mind, keeping their community safe and bringing justice for victims, “By ‘victims’, we mean a business owner that had his store broken into, or a home that was vandalized. In both cases people were the victim of someone else’s actions. Our goal is to keep this from happening and when it does, solve the cases as soon as we can so that we can earn justice for the victims,” says Martin. Seeing people being victimized is what drives the officers to seek the welfare and the intentional good of the community. “I once had my home broken into and so I know what it’s like to have that feeling of helplessness. Every time I work a break in, my experience is on my mind, explains Martin.” According to Martin, each officer has gifts and skills and passions that they are trying to use for the purpose of serving the community. “Part of my job is to help foster these abilities and put officers in a position where they can better serve Mena.”
Law enforcement so often make sacrifices that will go unnoticed, leaving their families so that others may be protected. When freedom and protection is enjoyed, the realization hits that true heroes don’t always wear capes.