Sgt. Chris Goodman has always wanted to make a difference in his community, and his tireless work at drug enforcement with the Arkansas State Police is being recognized today in an awards ceremony by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

“I’ve always wanted to make a difference in my community and in the state of Arkansas,” said Goodman. “I felt I was kind of being led toward the state police.”

Goodman started out with the Russellville Police Department, and worked there for six years before becoming a 14-year veteran of the state police. While with the state police, he and several other candidates from around the state were nominated for the Enrique S. Camarena Award presented by the Elks Lodge for their work at enforcing drug laws throughout Arkansas.

“I discovered early on in my career that (drug enforcement) was something I felt very strongly about after I watched it affect people that I was around, and even friends who I saw go down the wrong path,” said Goodman.

Arkansas has been among the top 10 states with the most arrests tied to methamphetamine usage and distribution for the past three years, with an estimated 70 percent of property crimes related to it. According to the World Health Organization, meth is the second most abused illicit drug in the world.

The Elks Lodge award is named in honor of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a Mexican-American DEA agent working in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1984. Information he provided the DEA while undercover led to the destruction of over 2,000 acres of a drug plantation.

The Mexican Drug Cartel had him abducted in broad daylight, and he was tortured for 30 hours, after which he finally died. But while he lived, Camarena was a firm believer that one person can make a difference.

“I felt like I wanted to eradicate as many of those drugs as I could, and maybe hurt the organizations that were putting that poison out on the streets, and affecting these communities and these folks,” said Goodman.

But even the stories of drug users and addicts can have a happy ending, and Goodman has seen the good with the bad.

“One of the best feelings in the world is for people who I’ve arrested or arrested someone close to them to tell me how their lives have gotten straightened up,” said Goodman. “For them to attribute any of that to you is something special, and I’ve had that happen several times and it never gets old.”

As much as Goodman enjoys his work with the Arkansas State Police, no matter where it might take him, he’s proud to call Russellville his home. He started off at the Ozark office for the first two years of his career with the state police, but now works out of the Clarksville office, and maybe, because he’s protecting a community most dear to his heart, it makes the sometimes dangerous work a little bit easier.

“I feel the state police is the best law enforcement agency in the state of Arkansas, and I feel that first as a trooper and now as a supervisor, I have the ability to better help those communities throughout the state that need it most,” said Goodman. “By keeping the interstate highways safer, I’m not just protecting my state, but my home, and I think the troopers under my supervision feel the same way.”