AGFC wildlife officer assists with Hope bank robbery arrest




    HOPE – Cpl. Dennis Hovarter, a wildlife officer with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission was instrumental in the apprehension of a bank robbery suspect after the robbery of the Bank of the Ozarks North Branch in Hope at roughly 1:30 p.m., Feb. 17. The arrest was the result of a joint effort by Hempstead County Sheriff’s Department, the Hope Police Department and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
    Officers with Hope Police Department received a call that an armed robbery had occurred at the Bank of the Ozarks North Branch in Hope. Witnesses described a blue Ford Explorer as the getaway vehicle. Hempstead County Dispatch relayed all pertinent information, including the suspect’s description, vehicle description and direction of travel. Hempstead County Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Crider located the vehicle and radioed for assistance while observing at a safe distance.
    According to a report provided by Lt. Nathan Hellums with the AGFC, Hovarter was monitoring his radio when the incident occurred and heard all information regarding the situation and the vehicle’s description. Hovarter positioned himself along the route the suspect’s vehicle was travelling and worked with Deputy Crider and Hope Police Department Officer Jennifer Ghormley to conduct a felony traffic stop of the suspect vehicle. A handgun and cash were recovered at the scene of the traffic stop.
    The driver of the vehicle, Johnny Crawford, 74, of Winnsboro, Texas, was placed under arrest without further incident.
    Major Pat Fitts with the AGFC’s Enforcement Division said wildlife officers often work together with other agencies, especially in rural Arkansas, where resources can be spread thin. “This is how law enforcement in rural Arkansas has evolved,” Fitts said. “Cpl. Hovarter happened to be the one who was in the position to help make the traffic stop and arrest. We’re happy that we were able to assist in the situation and that no one was injured during the incident.”