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LITTLE ROCK -- Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today that Cpl. David Passen of the Van Buren Police Department was selected as Officer of the Year at a ceremony recognizing outstanding law enforcement officers across the state.

Passen joined other law enforcement officers honored for their exemplary efforts at the Attorney General's 2012 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year awards today. The awards ceremony was a part of Attorney General McDaniel's annual Law Enforcement Summit.

Passen was among the first law enforcement officers to respond to emergency calls from the Crawford County Courthouse on Sept. 13, 2011. A man wielding handguns and an assault rifle opened fire on Passen's patrol car, striking the car 16 times. The armed man had just shot and injured a courthouse employee inside the courthouse.

Passen took cover and retrieved a rifle from the trunk of his car. Passen and other officers exchanged fire with the armed man, who was killed.

"With a steady hand and a clear head, Cpl. Passen helped return peace to a public building," McDaniel said. "Crawford County and the State are grateful for his honorable service and bravery."

Also during the ceremony, McDaniel paid special tribute to the late Jonathan Schmidt, a Trumann police officer shot and killed in the line of duty in April 2011. Even after having been shot by a suspect, Schmidt acted heroically to push a fellow officer out of harm's way.

For his heroic and selfless actions to save a fellow officer, Schmidt was honored posthumously with a special commendation for valor.

"Taking care of others is what Officer Schmidt did best, and we will forever be grateful for his sacrifice," McDaniel said.

Trumann Police Chief Chad Henson, who attended today's ceremony along with members of Schmidt's family, noted that Schmidt "lifted and pushed all of us to be the best, because he was the best."

In addition to recognitions for Passen and Schmidt, four other officers received awards. They were:

District 1: Cpl. David Jones of the Arkansas State Police. Jones was involved in an exchange of gunfire with a suspect in Independence County on Nov. 22, 2011.

District 2: Sgt. Kenneth Poore of the Yell County Sheriff's Department. Poore worked two shifts on July 25, helping to evacuate homes after a wildfire spread across the Ola area. That same night, Poore peacefully ended an incident involving an armed suspect.

District 3: Officer Blake Williamson of the Fayetteville Police Department. Williamson was shot in the leg during a disturbance at an apartment complex on March 24. Despite his injury, he exchanged fire with an armed suspect, forcing the suspect back into his apartment. A standoff ended peacefully six hours later.

District 4: Cpl. Pete Penney of the Arkansas State Police. Penney engaged in a struggle with a suspect during a traffic stop on March 23. Despite being shot in the abdomen during the struggle, he subdued the suspect.

The award recipients were selected by a panel of judges from the law enforcement community.


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