Spells Featured in Hometown Highlight

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It is always quite the honor to feature those individuals who are quietly serving and making huge impacts in their community. This month, we are featuring someone who certainly fits that bill. Hackett Police Chief Darrell Spells is a passionate public servant. His community and school are at the heart of what he does on a daily basis. What’s more, is that Spells has endured difficulties that most of us cannot even imagine, yet others now draw strength off his overcoming testimony.

Spells, 45, is married to wife, Tish and is the father of Brenna, Paula, and the late Hayden Spells. In addition to serving as Hackett’s Police Chief, he’s also a contributor to Resident Press News

He began his career as a police officer in 2002 as a part-time officer for Huttig, a small town in south Arkansas. Spells began his full-time career as a patrolman for the El Dorado Police Department in 2005. 

After spending three years as a patrolman, he joined the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force where he served as an Agent and assumed the title of Director from 2013-14.  While working narcotics for the 13th DTF, he served as a member of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force“While working on this task force, I was able to partake in Operation Wrecked Rim which led to the arrest of several high-level dealers in the south Arkansas area,” explained Spells.

In 2013, Spells became Chief of Police for Hackett. “On August 10, 2016, I was injured in an ambush that took the life of Sebastian County Deputy Bill Cooper.”  Spells returned to work two days later.  In December of 2016, he was awarded the Purple Heart and Award of Merit from the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office.

Spells is a 1997 graduate of South Arkansas Community College and attended Southern Arkansas University. He is also a graduate of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy. He holds an Advanced Certificate as well as Instructor Development certification and Firearms Instructor in addition to other certifications. 

“I have attended the prestigious Desert Snow class, recognized as one of the top narcotics training programs in the country.  In addition to Desert Snow, my training includes Advanced Narcotics training from RCTA in Meridian Mississippi.  I’ve also received training from the Chief Executive Seminar hosted by NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children).  I also hold certification in active shooter response from ALERRT,” added Spells.

One accomplishment Spells is most noted for is his impact in mental health and suicide awareness. He was one of the first fifteen people trained in the Call for Backup Mental Health and Suicide Awareness train the trainer course, sponsored by Humanizing the Badge in Michigan.  “It’s my mission to bring awareness to the problem of mental health among our first responders.  In 2019 I hope to bring the training to as many agencies in Arkansas as possible.  Over the course of my career, I’ve accumulated over 1000 law enforcement training hours.”

Spells is a proud member of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police, Harbor House board, as well as the Arkansas Narcotics Officers Association. Throughout his time at Hackett, he pioneered a program called Hackett Helping Hands, which provides assistance to children and families during Christmas.  In four years, the program has raised over $15,000 and helped nearly 300 kids and over 100 families with toys and food for the holidays. A strong proponent of community policing, Spells has incorporated the local school to assist with the program encouraging student involvement in making banners and sacking toys and food.   The Hackett Police Department also partnered with Mid-South Make a Wish Foundation along with radio station KTCS in Fort Smith to raise $3,000 in two hours during their fundraising drive. 

A resident of Lavaca, Spells enjoys spending his free time in the outdoors, with family and travelling.  He and his wife attend First Southern Baptist Church in nearby Central City, AR “I accepted Christ into my life as a child but just recently joined the church and was baptized.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve grown stronger in my faith and felt my relationship with the Lord strengthen.  I enjoy serving my community through not only serving and protecting but also compassion and giving.”

The years and dedication to the field have certainly taken a toll on Spells. He explained, “law enforcement in itself is simple.  People want their lives and property protected.  In most instances if you can provide that then you are deemed successful.  What many don’t realize is the toll mentally the job takes on you.  I’m not sure who come up with a 28-year retirement plan for Police officers in the state of Arkansas but they certainly didn’t factor in the wear and tear it has on you. As I’ve gotten older the cases stick with me more.  As a young patrolman you may not grasp the full weight of a call you’re on.  After you’re married and your kids grow up, you see parts of a call in your own life.  Especially now with calls regarding kids.  Those are the toughest ones.  You realize they had families who loved them.  Part of what’s happened over the last couple of years is you build relationships with the kids and their parents.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  You get the one on one interaction on a daily basis.  Especially at the school where I spend the majority of my time. You see the smiles and the laughter. The down side is when tragedy strikes, it hits closer to home. I may not have grown up in Hackett, but the town I’m from is very similar.  Hackett has kind of took me in.  They know I have an open-door policy and can stop by any time whether it be to talk, file a report, or even just vent.”

In May, Spells will graduate from Williams Baptist University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.  “I’m not really sure what the future holds for me beyond that.  Going back and getting my degree has been a rewarding challenge.  I’m always looking for new challenges so we’ll see what God has in store.”  

Congratulations to Spells on being nominated for our Hometown Highlight. If you know of an ordinary citizen who is doing extraordinary things, we want to honor them!

Submit nominations here

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Tammy Teague

Tammy Teague

Mansfield native, with roots in Scott County. Daughter, sister, wife and Christian. Education: 1995 MHS graduate; 1999 Arkansas Tech University Graduate - BA in Journalism. Career: Managing Editor - The Citizen; Copy Writer - Southwest Times Record; 20+ years experience in the news.

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