Officers out of hospital after being struck by vehicle

Officers injured in stable condition after being struck by vehicle

BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - The three Batesville police officers hit by a vehicle on Dec. 10 are now out of the hospital.

Chief Alan Cockrill said in a morning news release on Dec. 11, the incident happened around 11:40 p.m. during a traffic stop on Harrison Street in front of Sears.

Officials said the officers injured were Sgt. Brenda Bittle, a 30-year plus veteran officer; Patrolman Jordan Akins, an 8-year officer with the department; and Patrolman Amber Branscum, who has been with the department for three years.

“All of the officers are in stable condition,” said Cockrill. "Officer Branscum is being released today. She’s got some injuries, she’s going to be off for a while. Officer Bittle underwent surgery, she is out of surgery and she is recovering. Officer Akins is currently undergoing tests and we will know more about that tomorrow.”

As the officers were taking Tadd Alan Gates into custody, Cockrill said another vehicle hit them.

“Officers were in the outside lane of Harrison St./State Highway 69 taking the suspect into custody when a passing motorist failed to see the officers in the traffic lane and struck the above listed officers,” Batesville police said in a media release.

All three police officers were taken to various hospitals for treatment of their injuries.

The case remains under investigation.

Arkansas State Police are investigating the accident part of the incident, while Batesville police are investigating the case against Gates.

The driver alleged to have struck the officers has not been identified. However, Cockrill says the driver was very apologetic. He also doesn’t “anticipate any charges against the gentleman whatsoever.”

BPD has 27 officers. With the accident injuring three officers, the department is more than understaffed.

Cockrill says he already has two officers on medical leave and a position that is open, making him six officers short-staffed.

He says it’s all hands on deck right now.

“I’ve got some really good auxiliary officers and the mayor has agreed that we are going to spend whatever money needs to be spent to make sure the streets are safe through Christmas and the holidays,” Cockrill said.

That will also include him and his administration getting suited up to hit the streets.

Twenty-four hours after the incident, many in the community are calling for everyone to be more vigilant.

"When you see those police officers just take the time to slow down, stop, maybe go around. Just watch your surroundings at all times,” Tommye Richard said.

She says many things can become a distraction including cell phones so when you see those blue lights just keep your eyes up at all times.

Richard also says that she is thankful to know that those officers are okay.

“It could have been a lot worst. We could be burying three police officers this week. Which would have been a tragedy for this community,” Richard said.

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