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First Marshallese citizen in Arkansas becomes Washington County Deputy

A previous rule made it impossible for non-American residents to graduate from the Police Academy, Cpl. Joel Minor is the first Marshallese man to break the barrier.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark — A Washington County Deputy will be the first Marshallese citizen in Arkansas to graduate from the Law Enforcement Training Academy.  

“It just blows my mind. I never knew that I would be the first,” said Corporal Joel Minor. 

Minor graduated from the Law Enforcement Training Academy in early April.  A previous rule from the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards prevented non-American citizens from going to the academy, but a recent rule change allowed Minor to be the first. 

“I didn’t know there were loops I was going to have to go but I’m glad that I did," he said. "There were sometimes I almost gave up, but I had friends that helped out that told me to never give up."

Minor was born in the Marshall Islands and came to Springdale when he was around four or five years old. He says it was in elementary school when a Springdale Police Officer visited his class that inspired him to go into law enforcement. That officer told him that there weren’t any people of Marshallese descent in law enforcement, so he made being the first his goal. 

Minor says he hopes to help bridge that gap. 

"By being out there more with them and getting involved with the community, and more of the Marshallese community and help reach out to them that law enforcement officers aren’t that all bad. They are there to help so hopefully I can accomplish that,” he said. 

Minor has worked for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for six years in the detention center. Now that he’s certified, he wants to pursue a patrol role. Chief Deputy Jay Cantrell says Minor is a wonderful employee and they are excited for his future with the sheriff’s office.  

“He’s got that heart for service. He wants to give back to his community and so we are excited that he gets to be the first," Cantrell said. "You know there is only one first in Arkansas and he’s it. He’s from our agency and that makes us very proud that he can represent Washington County in that way."

Minor says his family is very proud of him for not giving up on his dreams and loved seeing him walk across the stage and receive his certificate. He has some advice for anyone with big dreams or goals. 

“Focus on that goal and even though there are loops within that goal that you are trying to reach, just don’t give up on it. You’ll have people along the way that will help you, so just don’t get up, focus on that goal,” Minor said. 

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office says it hopes this will recruit more people to come work for the sheriff’s office. 

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