As published September 22, 2010
BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Robert and Dolores Hutcheson have a unique arrangement as far as couples go – they are both officers of the law. Robert is a deputy sheriff for Polk County and Dolores is a police officer with the City of Mena. They serve and protect our community in many fashions, and they share their challenges and successes with each other when the day is done, and as Dolores puts it, they also serve and protect each other – and they are probably more capable at that than most.
Robert Hutcheson was born in Magnolia, Ark., but the family moved to East Texas when he was a young boy and he grew up in that area. At the young age of 18 he set out to make his fortune in the oil fields.
“I worked across the south – Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, Alabama, and up into Arkansas,” Hutcheson recalled. “I was what they called a ‘fishing tool’ specialist. If someone lost a tool down a 10,000-foot shaft, I had the equipment and the expertise to retrieve it. I did that until 1988 – made my fortune and left the oil fields,” he said with a wry smile.
Hutcheson explained that he and his first wife, Kim, left the oil fields when the boom was over and headed off to the mountains around Mena.
“I liked to have starved to death at first,” he said with that smile again. “I finally got a job with U.S. Motors in March of ’89 – running a 32” computerized lathe. I worked at that for a year and a half, then went into research and development – the performance of motors – seeing how well they would hold up. Some of them as big as 18,000 pounds.
“But I liked being out of the rat race and living in Mena,” he continued. “I stayed with U.S. Motors until August of 1995, when I went to work full time at the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. I had been serving as a reserve officer until then. At that point I found the best job in the world with the best bossman you could have.”
Unfortunately, Hutcheson lost his wife during that time, but he worked through the pain, continuing to do his job. In 2007 he married Dolores who had been a co-worker and friend for years.
Dolores Hutcheson was born and raised in Ohio. After graduating from high school she moved to Texas.
“I ended up in Arkansas in 1982 and took a job with the Polk County Assessors Office until 1988,” she recalled. “I went to work for the office of emergency services for a year after that, then on to the 18 Judicial District Drug Task Force in 1990, as a sheriff’s deputy. In 1993 I became a police officer for the City of Mena.”
Dolores is still a police officer for the Mena Police Department and Robert continues to work for the sheriffs’ department, and both of them believe the relationship offers more benefits than challenges, because each understands the parameters of being a law enforcement spouse, and they can share both the tribulations and the victories with true understanding.
“Dolores identifies with that phone call in the middle of the night and I recognize and accept the challenges and responsibilities she has,” Robert said. “It makes the hard times easier too, when you can share what you’ve just gone through with someone who truly understands.”
Robert is also a firefighter with the Dallas Valley Fire Department and has been with them for over 20 years. He has served as captain and assistant fire chief during that time.
“We’re both members of the Polk County Search and Rescue team,” Dolores added. “We are also members of the Western Arkansas Fire and Rescue Association. We share and benefit from the different perspectives of a man and a woman in our professions and we’re fortunate that we have this. We have a unique relationship – I know he’ll always be there for me and I hope he knows that I will always be there for him. We take the motto, “to serve and protect” to a personal level as well as professional.
Robert added, “It can be tough at times – knowing your wife is going into a situation that is dangerous, and I have to separate being a husband from being a policeman and that’s hard.”
Still, both continue to do their jobs to the best of their ability, and leave behind some good here and there.
“I don’t have any children, but I have helped raise hundreds of them,” Robert said. “I’ve discovered when you bring a baby home, all you get is a bill – there’s no warranty, instructions, or guarantee. It’s up to you. I’ve tried to help parents with that as much as possible, and I like to think it’s worked.”
Dolores added, “There are moments of frustration because you deal with things you can’t fix sometimes, but there’s also a lot of gratification when you get a chance to help – to change people’s lives for the better.”