Sheriff Jody Dotson this week announced that he was resigning as Sheriff of Lawrence County and taking a position with the State of Arkansas’ Tobacco Control covering 10 counties in north Arkansas. Dotson elected this year not to run for re-election after serving two terms as sheriff.

Dotson began his his law enforcement career as a Reserve Deputy under the administration of Sheriff Hutton in 2000. A story that surfaced recently by retired Chief Deputy Ted Horton about Sheriff Dotson was the first time he met, Horton said Dotson was at the Portia Picnic volunteering as a reserve deputy. Dotson was working and came to the event as soon as he got off. Horton recalled his uniform was wrinkled and his first words to him were “Where did you get that uniform? From behind your truck seat?” Horton would later serve as Sheriff Dotson’s only Chief Deputy until his retirement.

Dotson achieved many goals and accomplishments to the sheriff’s office. Dotson stated that when he first began things were a little different than today, it was 3 months after he was hired that he was issued a radio. He said once his shift started he would drive from town to town in the county using pay phones to call the jail and report in, sometimes he would even ask residents to use their home phones. Dotson also said that at times he was the deputy on duty, jailer and dispatcher all at the same time. During his time as a patrol deputy he worked both nights and “swing Shift” before transferring into the Criminal Investigation Division of the sheriff’s office. Dotson’s expertise during his early days was clandestine meth labs, Dotson was the only officer in the area and one of the few in the state trained to dismantle working labs. Dotson not only did this for Lawrence County but other counties as well.

Other achievements during his career include Supreme Court Committee on Security and Preparedness, Governors Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council, National Sheriff’s School, FBI Crime Scene School, Associates Degree in Criminal Justice, Certified Law Enforcement Instructor, Senior Certified Law Enforcement Officer through Standards, Guest Instructor for Black River Technical College, Certified DEA Clandestine Lab Technician, Instructor for Probation/Parole Officers, Beta Tester for CJI (Criminal Justice Institute) Online Classes, Member of the National Sheriff’s Association, Member of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association, Consultant for Sheriff’s Association Meth Classes, Member of National Chiefs of Police Association, Drug Enforcement Agency Spotter School, 2014 Elk’s Award for Drug Awareness as well as several other awards and certificates over the years. Dotson also assisted the dispatch center in becoming the states first National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s certified dispatch center.

Dotson also shared a story about his week long training with the DEA, officers learned to spot illegal marijuana grows and during one such flight the helicopter experienced a mechanical failure forcing the helicopter to make an emergency landing at the ball field in Imboden where it stayed until a repair part could be shipped in.

Dotson told us that one case in particular stayed in his memory, Dotson received a call from a school concerning a student who had not been in school for quite some time, Dotson stated he traveled to the home in the Smithville area to do a welfare check on the minor. Dotson said the boy was being kept in a room with only a mattress and potty chair, food was being passed through a hole in the door, Dotson rescued the minor child and took him to his office. Dotson said he then typed up a warrant and arrested the parents, family from Texas came to Lawrence County and took the child, Dotson stated he received Christmas Cards for years from the minor saying Dotson saved his life.

On a lighter note, Dotson recalled some of the vehicles he was assigned of the years telling us about one in particular that would stall out when you applied the brakes, he also recalled his engine stalling and the battery running down disabling his radio, Dotson recalled being rescued by hunters early the next morning. The Sheriff also told us about being applauded after working an accident during snow and ice at the hill in Powhatan, Dotson stated he fell on the snow and slid all the way to the bottom of the hill as people clapped. He then walked his way back to the top of the hill and completed his report.

Dotson was a major sponsor with Lawrence County ATOD which began in 1999, Sheriff Dotson presented Red Ribbons to all the schools in Lawrence County each year and presented programs to every school in the county. Dotson and the ATOD group donated dozens of backpacks filled with school supplies to schools across the county. ATOD still survives today with students from all over the county participating in the program. Lawrence County was also one of the first 7 counties in the state to have a permanent drop box for unused prescription drugs and has held RX Take backs several times a year with locations such as Imboden, Walnut Ridge and Strawberry. To date Sheriff Dotson has delivered more than 2000 lbs. of unused prescription drugs to the national program for proper disposal. Dotson also presented programs for drugs, alcohol, safety, bullying and careers of the years.

Dotson stated that until he moved into CID the sheriff’s office was still using typewriters, computers were brought into the department along with advancements to keep the public informed such as the Mobile Patrol, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office Website, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Facebook and many other updates including the addition of the AFIS computer which gives fingerprint returns in minutes instead of days on both misdemeanor and felony charges.

Dotson also remarked that the Lawrence County Most Wanted which has been a huge success, to date over 70 wanted criminals have been captured with the help of the public through this program. The was also initiated by Sheriff Dotson, tips for wanted criminal as well as illegal activity are report anonymously report to law enforcement giving the public another means of communication to the sheriff’s office. Dotson also maintained an open door policy throughout his tenure as sheriff.

Another aspect of the department that Dotson was proud of was the work program through the jail, inmates who qualified could get 2 for 1 credit on time served by working on different programs throughout the county. These programs benefited many cities throughout the county such as the city of Walnut Ridge, Lawrence County Library, City of Hoxie, Ravenden, Imboden as well as the Clover Bend Historical School and Portia Exceptional School. After the ice storm in 2009 inmates assisted many towns and communities including facilities operated by the Arkansas State Parks. Dotson also utilized Reserve Deputies to take inmates all around the county picking up trash on the roadsides.

In 2011 Sheriff Dotson formed the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Dive Team, Dotson worked with the Office of Emergency Management to secure grants from the Department of Homeland Security for needed equipment. The Dive Team continues to assist county officers with water and land searches in Lawrence and surrounding counties. The team has worked and trained with several surrounding counties as well as the Arkansas Game and Fish Dive Team and made several dives for the FBI.

In 2013 Sheriff Dotson along with the Walnut Ridge Police Department participated in the longest search in Lawrence County history. When reports came out concerning missing Sidney Randall from Walnut Ridge, Sheriff Dotson and Chief Richy Thatcher combined forces and for the next 71 days conducted a tireless search of Lawrence County which included numerous agencies and thousands of volunteers.

As our county turns the page to the new administration, Captain Tony Waldrupe from the Walnut Ridge Police Department is stated to be sworn into office upon Dotson’s departure with incoming Sheriff Jeff Yates to be sworn in Jan. 1st 2015.

On a personal note, we have enjoyed working with Sheriff Dotson and wish him all the best. We also look to the future of the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and look forward to the next administration’s success. For more information on the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, visit .