The Benton Police Department recently honored a retiring officer for his many years of service to the department and the residents of Benton.
Officer Chris Runnells retired after 16 years with BNPD due to an injury he received while on duty that brought about the end of his law enforcement career. Along with BNPD Chief Scotty Hodges, numerous officers, family members and friends gathered at the Benton Municipal Complex to honor Runnells for all he has given during his career.
“What a special occasion this is,” said Benton Mayor Tom Farmer. “It’s kind of a sad occasion in one aspect. We have an officer that has dedicated his life to protecting the citizens here in Benton and we thank you for that service and we thank you for everything you’ve done over the past years.”
A Texarkana native, Runnells and his family moved to Saline County when he was a teenager.
He began his law enforcement career with the Saline County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy in October 1996. After becoming a jailer, Runnells maintained his status as a reserve deputy.
In September 1997, Runnells began working with the Shannon Hills Police Department. Two years later, he returned to SCSO when he was offered a job as a patrol deputy.
He is a graduate of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy as part of Class 99-C.
“While at the sheriff’s department, he was fortunate enough to receive an assignment as a detective in the Group 6 Narcotic Enforcement Unit under the direction of Benton Police Department’s very own, Sgt. Hanely Taylor,” Hodges said. “It was this assignment and some discussion with Sgt. Taylor that lead Chris to the Benton Police Department.”
Runnells joined BNPD in November 2002 as part of the patrol division. Four years later, he became a detective in the Special Investigation Unit in addition to working for a time as a warrant officer.
“During his career he served approximately 15 years as a SWAT officer,” Hodges said. “Unfortunately, in 2017, while responding to an incident where several individuals were fighting, Officer Runnells sustained a knee injury.”
After numerous surgeries it was determined that he could no longer serve as a police officer and he was forced to resign this year.
“It’s been one heck of a journey,” Runnells said. “Many, many officers have touched my life. I hope that I’ve touched theirs in a positive way. I’ve trained several of the officers and hopeful they will go on to bigger and better days and move up in the ranks.”
Runnells is married to his wife Alicia and they share three children.
“I just want to thank the city and Chief Hodges for many fun years,” Runnells said. “There’s been some ups and downs, but for the most part, I am very, very proud of my career and everything I’ve done. I appreciate everyone showing up.”