Arkansas Man Makes History by Becoming the First Marshallese Citizen to Become a Police Officer

First Marshallese Citizen to Become a Police Officer in Arkansas
By Pamela Acosta

A Washington County deputy made history when he became the first Marshallese civilian in Arkansas to graduate from the Law Enforcement Training Academy.

Corporal Joel Minor’s dream to become a law enforcement officer was ignited when a Springdale officer visited his third-grade classroom and told the class there were no Marshallese people in the line of work.

He made it his goal to become the first. But a rule from the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards stood in his way. To become a certified law enforcement officer, Cpl. Minor needed to be a U.S. citizen.

He and his family moved to Springdale when he was four or five. The Har-Ber High School graduate has been working in the Washington County Detention Center for six years, patiently waiting to reach his dream.

Then in early 2022, the rule changed to allow Marshallese citizens to become law enforcement officers without renouncing their homeland citizenship. Cpl. Minor’s dream was close.

He graduated from the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy this Spring, making him the first Marshallese citizen to become a law enforcement officer in Arkansas.

“I want to serve my community and help out the Marshallese people that don’t know how to speak English very well,” said Cpl. Minor. “So hopefully, we can break the barrier between law enforcement and the Marshallese community.”

Now that he’s certified, he wants to pursue a patrol role, but Cpl. Minor still has a few final hoops to jump through within the department before he can go out patrolling, but his dream is within reach.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office hopes that the change to the rule attracts more Marshallese citizens to the force.

“It’s important for us that this rule change was made because it allows us to now recruit some of our Marshallese community,” said Chief Deputy Jay Cantrell of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. “The police are the people, and the people are the police, and we want to match what we serve.”