Conway, AR – Conway Police Officer Nathan Riddle died from pneumonia complications on Sunday, according to his department.
Officer Riddle, 35, had been hospitalized for at least a week prior to his death, Conway Police Department spokesperson LaTresha Woodruff told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
“It’s with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of one of our own,” the department said in a Facebook post on Sunday evening. “Officer Nathan Riddle of your Conway Police Department passed away today after complications due to pneumonia.”
“He was a dedicated member of the CPD and served this community well,” the post read. “Officer Riddle will be truly missed. Please keep his family, friends and the CPD in your prayers. Thank you for your service Officer Nathan Riddle.”
“I was just speaking to him…just a few days before he went into the hospital,” Officer Riddle’s friend and coworker, Conway Officer Thad Burrow, told KTHV. “And [suddenly] he’s gone and then you’re having to come to terms with that. It’s just unreal.”
Conway Police Officer Brittany Byrd described Officer Riddle as “a very understanding and reliable person,” who was among the most “well-respected officers” on her shift, KTHV reported.
“You could count on him,” Officer Byrd said. “If he was your friend, he was your friend for life.”
Officer Riddle, a Marine Corp veteran, served as an officer with the University of Central Arkansas Police Department (UCAPD) for several years before he joined the Conway Police Department nearly three years ago.
He also spent time working for the Arkansas Department of Corrections prison system, served at Camp Robinson, and was employed as a firefighter in the past, the Log Cabin Democrat reported.
“He’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” UCAPD Sergeant Jake Moss, who met Officer Riddle during the academy in 2005, told KTHV. “He’s really helped me through a lot in life, and he’s one of the toughest, funniest, most gentle people that I have ever met.”
Sgt. Moss said that even his children thought of Officer Riddle as a member of the family.
“We were really close. My kids called him Uncle Riddle,” Sgt. Moss said. “He’s gonna be missed, for sure.”
Conway Police Chief Jody Spradlin said Officer Riddle “came with such a great recommendation from everyone we spoke to,” and that he was excited to bring him into the ranks at the department, The Log Cabin Democrat reported.
“He cared about the image of law enforcement and cared even more about the image of Conway PD,” Chief Spradlin said.
“He carried himself well and always had his uniform looking sharp, as I would expect of any U.S. Marine,” the chief recalled. “His self-discipline was top-notch and he always represented our department in a positive manner.”
Chief Spradlin said he especially enjoyed watching Officer Riddle interact with children.
“One of my favorite memories of him, for example, was seeing him at our annual Child Safety Fair showing kids our SWAT equipment, letting them try on the bullet resistant vests, helping them hold the heavy shield that weighed more than the child itself,” the chief explained.
“He made them feel strong, and he was the one doing all the lifting. He cared about children and the smiles he put on their faces was his reward,” he said. “The smile on his face told it all.”
Officer Riddle touched many lives, both through his service to his country and to his local community, Officer Byrd told KTHV.
“He’s definitely done a lot for a lot of people, whether those people even know him or not,” she noted. “He’s been doing it his whole life.”
Officer Riddle also served on the department’s SWAT team, Lt. Woodruff told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
“I just think it was an honor to know him and to be a part of his life,” Officer Burrow told KTHV. “Not only for him to be a part of mine but for me to have been a part of his and to know him…The sacrifice that he’s made for the community and the country, it’s just something to look up to. And I’m a better person for being next to him and a part of his journey.”
Officer Riddle will be laid to rest on Saturday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Conway Police Officer Nathan Riddle, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.