Arkansas State Trooper Spencer Morris was named National Trooper of the Year by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, State and Provincial Division during a March 25 award ceremony in Seattle, before an audience of law enforcement officers from across the nation. It was 25 years ago, in 1997, when an Arkansas State Trooper was last selected by IACP as National Trooper of the Year.
Trooper Morris, 34, of Crittenden County in northeastern Arkansas, is a graduate of the 2018 Arkansas State Police Training Academy, and was among a group of four regional state trooper finalists across the nation. Morris is assigned to the Highway Patrol Division, Troop D, headquartered at Forrest City.
Morris was additionally recognized for his actions on December 16, 2021 during an attempted traffic stop that ended in Memphis:
While working his assigned interstate patrol duties, Morris answered the radio call from the US Marshals Service requesting assistance in apprehending a fugitive from South Carolina, believed to be armed and considered dangerous, who was traveling through West Memphis along Interstate 55 headed toward Memphis. Trooper Morris was the closest law enforcement officer in the area who would have been able to intercept the vehicle.
At around 2:30 PM, Morris observed the suspect’s vehicle and began to position his patrol car for the traffic stop. As he closed in on the car, multiple gun shots from the suspect vehicle were directed at Trooper Morris, with one round striking him in the chest. Morris’ body armor slowed the round, resulting in a minor wound.
Despite the injury and the imminent deadly threat to himself and other motorists traveling into Memphis, Morris began to return gunfire directed at the fleeing suspect. As the pursuit approached the I-55 McLemore interchange, the suspect vehicle slowed and came to a stop, and the wounded trooper radioed his location and requested assistance. Morris moved his patrol car to the roadside and, at a safe distance, exited his vehicle to take a defensive position.
Local police officers soon joined Morris, along with paramedics, who transported the wounded trooper to a nearby hospital where doctors determined the wound was non-life threatening. With traffic diverted from the interstate, a SWAT team moved toward the suspect vehicle to find the wanted fugitive and another occupant still in the car, both deceased.
Later that day, Trooper Morris was released from the hospital and taken home to his family, where all were thankful to be reunited.
In his comments to the Seattle audience, Colonel Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Police said, “Arkansas State Troopers patrol more than 16 thousand miles of state highways every day and along the way, they stop to serve the citizens, whether it’s to help change a flat tire, or just take a minute to listen to someone’s concerns or troubles.
“These men and women we know as Arkansas State Troopers are part of the fabric that hold local communities together,” Colonel Bryant said. “They are among the best trained law enforcement officers in the country, dedicated and always ready to serve.
“Trooper Spencer Morris is just one example of more than 500 other Arkansas state troopers, just like him, who set aside awesome risks to themselves each day to make their state a safer and better place to call home.”
Trooper Morris returned to active duty and continues patrolling Arkansas highways, in and around, Crittenden County.