BENTON, Ark. – Flags are at half-staff in Benton throughout Veterans Day weekend for a detective who lost his life because of a crash on his way to the Benton Police Department.
Special Investigations Unit Detective James “Mike” Lett hydroplaned and struck a bridge guardrail around Rodney Parham in Little Rock as he was heading to a Drug Take Back on October 28.
He passed away from his injuries 11 days later on November 8, 2023.
Over a hundred officers from across central Arkansas rallied around his family Wednesday morning. An escort of Detective Lett’s body started at the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock and ended at the Smith Funeral Home in Benton.
Fellow members of Benton’s Police Department made up the majority of those out, but Lett’s legacy left a much larger footprint than one city.
From the start of carrying the casket, there were salutes to a soldier, an officer, an instructor, and a detective. James “Mike” Lett was all these things and more.
After joining the Air Force, he made a career in law enforcement, serving Arkansas for over 25 years between the Attorney General’s office, Pulaski County and Saline Sheriff’s Offices, and the Maumelle & Benton Police Departments.
Each of his former agencies were there for his escort despite the rainy day, just like the one where he crashed on his way to serve.
The sight of endless solidarity and support drew people like Dr. Zach Williamson outside to watch with respect.
“It was pretty touching honestly. I mean that was super nice to see. You know Benton is a great town and people really try to come together here,” Dr. Williamson said.
Detective Lett’s reach extended far beyond the badges he wore.
Lett taught topics on concealed carry, criminal scene investigations, and more to new officers statewide. So, it was no surprise over a dozen agencies joined the procession to honor him.
“Everyone tries to do great things in their life and touch as many people as many people’s lives as they can, change their lives, things of that nature, and it sounds like he was really one of those people. Those are rare to find these days,” Williamson stated.
Lett had been with BPD as a detective since 2019. Members of the agency have been by the late officer and his family’s side since the accident in October to the funeral home Thursday.
The agency released a statement following Lett’s death Wednesday:
“It breaks our heart to have to inform you that Det. Lett passed away today at approximately 1:30pm. Det. Lett was surrounded by family both blood and blue. Thank you all for your prayers and support. We are working closely with the family and will update everyone as to arrangements.”
Benton Police said they plan to make a formal statement on the support seen Thursday at a later date.
A memorial service for Lett will be held November 11 at 2:00 P.M. inside First Baptist Church of Benton located at 211 South Market Street.
Detective Lett’s full obituary can be read here.