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N.H. says goodbye to Brentwood police Officer Steve Arkell

Last modified: 5/23/2014 12:04:18 AM
Steve Arkell was a family man who was deeply committed to his community and his job, several speakers told thousands of mourners from across the region who gathered in Exeter yesterday to remember the Brentwood police officer.

“Steve died doing what he loved and did best: helping the people of Brentwood,” said the town’s police chief, Wayne Robinson, at the memorial service.

Arkell, a 48-year-old part-time officer, died May 12 when he was shot while responding to a domestic dispute in Brentwood.

Thousands of officers gathered yesterday in a 2-mile-long procession from the New England Dragway to the memorial service at Exeter High School’s stadium.

Arkell’s fellow Brentwood officers walked alongside the hearse carrying the flag-covered casket, which was led by 400 officers riding in a motor unit, as well as a color guard and bagpipers. Behind them marched hundreds more officers representing police departments from across New England. Local residents lined the path along Route 27, with their hands on their hearts or in salute.

Once the procession reached the stadium, the Brentwood officers carried the casket to the center field line for the service.

“This is a tremendous loss,” said Brentwood police Lt. David Roy, who grew up in the same Brentwood neighborhood as Arkell and had remained a lifelong friend. A couple of years after Roy joined the Brentwood police force, Arkell did, too, Roy said.

Arkell was an officer for 15 years and was known for his patience, ability to calm people down and “willingness to find something good in everyone.”

“Steve loved this town, this community,” Roy said, addressing the more than 3,000 people who filled rows of seats on the field and benches in the bleachers.

“He loved serving all of you, whether it was a lost dog, a car accident, a simple motor vehicle violation,” Roy said. “Steve wanted to help.”

Arkell was allegedly shot by Michael Nolan, 47, last week when he responded to a call about a domestic dispute at a Brentwood home. Nolan then set fires throughout the home, which eventually exploded, according to authorities.

“This police officer from a small town allowed each of us to go home,” said Col. Robert Quinn, the director of the New Hampshire State Police. “He sacrificed his tomorrow so we could have ours.”

Arkell was not only a father, brother, master carpenter, coach and friend, he was always family first, Quinn said, speaking to the crowd that included Arkell’s wife, Heather, and his two teenage daughters, Kimberly and Lauren, all sitting in the front row.

“We come together not because of how Steve died, but how he lived,” he said. “We need to go back to our departments and live up to the standards he set as a police officer, father and member of the community.”

Gov. Maggie Hassan called Arkell a “true Granite State hero” whose “bravery and compassion presented the very best of law enforcement.”

She praised his commitment to his community and his family, which she said was exemplified in the way he frequented Lindy’s Country Store to pick up food for the stray cats he looked after – as well as to buy homemade doughnuts – and how he coached his daughters’ lacrosse team. Throughout the service, a lacrosse net stood to the left of the stage and podium.

“The vibrancy of Steve’s life will never fade,” said Hassan, who earlier had marched in the procession alongside Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte.

Arkell was “a common man with uncommon values,” said Exeter High School Athletic Director William Ball. “What Steve possessed, you can’t buy in a store.”

At the close of the ceremony, the last call for Arkell – who was badge No. 87– echoed out across the stadium. “This is the last call for Brentwood 87,” a Rockingham County dispatcher called out. “Although you are gone, you will never be forgotten. End of watch May 12, 2014.”

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at amorris@cmonitor.com.)


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