Detective Kevin Collins of Pine Bluff knew since he was three that he wanted to be a police officer.


His step-father worked for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. His mother was a teacher. So from an early age, the role models in Kevin’s life inspired him to serve others. And serve he did, above and beyond the call of duty.


For a time, he worked as an emergency-services dispatcher. Then he worked for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. And five years ago, he realized his childhood dream by joining his hometown police department to serve the community he knew and loved.


Kevin was part of the violent-crimes unit, which means he worked on some of Arkansas’s most dangerous cases. He had a special passion for taking illegal guns off the streets and mentoring young people in the community.


His hard work was noticed, and rewarded. Just two years after joining the force, Collins was named Officer of the Year after rushing into a burning apartment building and rescuing a 95-year-old woman who was trapped inside.


When he received that award, Collins reflected on his lifelong dream of becoming an officer, which he described as a “service” and “something I could be proud of.”


You could say that Kevin Collins was destined to be a police officer. Tragically, he was destined to die as one, much too soon.


Last Monday, Detective Collins was tracking a suspected murderer who was holed up at a hotel. A gun battle broke out. Detective Collins and his fellow officer, Lt. Ralph Isaac, were hit during this exchange and rushed to the hospital. Lt. Isaac recovered… but Detective Collins did not. He went to be with the Lord at the age of 35, leaving his family, his community, and his state heartbroken.


Detective Collins’ death is a tragedy—a stark warning of the dangers police officers face every day. Detective Collins joins 231 of his fellow officers who’ve died in the line of duty just this year.


But it would be a mistake only to mark Detective Collins’ death. We ought also to learn from his example in life.


Kevin Collins was the Guardian of Pine Bluff—whether in his capacity as an officer, or off duty as a security guard at his local church.


When he received the Officer of the Year award in 2017, Collins said that being a police officer was about extending a “life line to save others.” We’ll never know how many lives Kevin Collins saved, but we do know that his hometown is more peaceful and prosperous because of his service.


Pine Bluff was blessed to have a guardian in Kevin Collins. Now his watch on Earth is over. He’s looking down on us from above. May he rest in peace.