HUNTSVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT
815 Wheeler Ave.
Huntsville, Alabama 35801
Public Safety Media Administrator
AG KING PRESENTS AWARDS TO ALABAMA’S OFFICERS OF THE YEAR
AND CERTIFICATES OF VALOR TO FAMILIES OF FALLEN OFFICERS;
LAW ENFORCEMENT SUMMIT FOCUSES ON MISSING, ABDUCTED CHILDREN
(MONTGOMERY, AL October 9, 2008) — At the Attorney General’s 2008 Law Enforcement Summit held today in Montgomery, approximately 650 law enforcement professionals received specialized training to deal with situations involving missing and abducted children. In addition to a series of presentations by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Associate Director Wayne Sheppard, this ninth annual conference featured a tribute by Attorney General Troy King to state and regional law enforcement officers of the year. He also honored fallen law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty during the last year, presenting family members with Certificates of Valor.
Attorney General King began today’s Summit by observing a moment of silence for Department of Corrections Officer Rodney Kelly and the six recruits he was transporting when all seven were killed in a tragic accident last Friday. King then welcomed law enforcement officers to the conference, telling them “how proud I am to get to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you as Alabama’s chief law enforcement officer, and how proud I am of the work being done everyday by law enforcement across the state, the work being done by you.“
In a special ceremony during the conference, the Attorney General named Alabama heroes in law enforcement "who go above and beyond the call of duty—those officers who display exceptional bravery and dedication to the people of Alabama” as Outstanding Law Enforcement Officers of the Year. Departments from throughout Alabama were invited to nominate officers for this award, and committees of law enforcement professionals selected statewide and district winners.
Outstanding Law Enforcement Officers of the Year for 2008 are:
· Statewide: Officer Kevin Lambert of the Huntsville Police Department;
· Northern District: Deputy Jason Higgins of the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office;
· Middle District: Deputy Jason Myrick of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office;
Each honoree received a gift certificate for one of the Retirement System of Alabama resorts and a framed Certificate of Merit from Attorney General King. In addition, the statewide winner was awarded with a gift certificate for a Glock semi-automatic pistol, provided by the Alabama Peace Officers Association, the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police, the Alabama Sheriff’s Association, and Gulf States Distributors which is a provider of law enforcement equipment.
Attorney General King emphasized his commitment to keep the children of Alabama safe, noting his work to pass strong legislation to protect children and to punish to the fullest extent of the law those who would harm children. He told the law enforcement officers gathered for today’s summit, “I traveled the state and listened to those who know what was best needed to carry out their jobs in pursuing these criminals. ‘Tough laws’ was your cry, and I am happy to stand before you knowing that Alabama has some of the toughest laws of any state in the nation in regards to punishing sex offenders.” To assist officers in the enforcement of these laws, the Attorney General’s staff has conducted community seminars throughout Alabama, providing intensive training to more than 1000 officers.
“Alabama’s children are the reason I get up early and that I work late,” stated Attorney General King. “They are the reasons for this year’s summit topic. I can’t think of a more horrifying call you can receive as a law enforcement officer than to hear there is a missing or abducted child. When you leave here today, it is my desire that you will walk away better equipped should you ever be faced with this type of situation.”
The conference featured a series of sessions presented by Wayne Sheppard, associate director of training for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A retired member of the Pennsylvania State Police, Sheppard held a variety of investigative and supervisory positions, serving as supervisor of the Criminal Investigation Assessment Unit, Missing Persons Unit, and the Pennsylvania Amber Alert Coordinator. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was established in 1984 and funded by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
A highlight of the annual event came shortly after noon, with Attorney General King’s recognition during an awards luncheon of those selected as Officers of the Year and special remembrances of individual fallen officers.
Attorney General King presented a Certificate of Merit to Deputy Jason Higgins of the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office, representing the Northern District of Alabama:
“On June 11, 2008, Deputy Higgins and a reserve deputy were in route to make a theft report in the Whorten Bend community when they were flagged down at the scene of an accident. Deputy Higgins could see a man slumped over the wheel of a Ford Explorer that had gone off the road and hit a guide wire. He checked for a pulse and found none. Although concerned about moving the victim because of possible neck injuries, Deputy Higgins was also aware of the need to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation immediately. Deputy Higgins and Reserve Officer Gilliland got the man out of the vehicle, and Deputy Higgins started chest compressions. The medics arrived and were able to get a pulse before loading the victim into the ambulance. Although the victim died twelve days later, his family and loved ones were very grateful for the additional time they had with their loved one because of Deputy Higgins’s work. Deputy Higgins’s sustained, superior performance, coupled with his devotion to duty, is in keeping with the highest traditions of public service, and reflects great credit upon him, his family, Etowah County, and the State of Alabama.”
Representing the Middle District, Deputy Jason Myrick of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office was recognized by Attorney General King:
“On June 17, 2008, when a person suspected of murder barricaded himself inside a house, Deputy Myrick, without regard for his own safety, entered the house of the suspected murderer to ascertain if officers had placed themselves in harm’s way by not being in a covered location. Deputy Myrick ultimately made contact with the murder suspect and took him into custody without incident. Although Deputy Myrick was knowledgeable of the atrocious act this person had committed, and while operating under the cover of chemical munitions and extreme stress, he treated the suspect with dignity and respect, assuring that due process was followed. Deputy Myrick’s sustained, superior performance, coupled with his devotion to duty, is in keeping with the highest traditions of public service, and reflects great credit upon him, his family, Shelby County, and the State of Alabama.”
Attorney General King also described the heroism of Officer Kevin Lambert of the Huntsville Police Department, who was awarded as Statewide Officer of the Year:
“Today we recognize Officer Kevin Lambert for his bravery, heroism, and courageous dedication to duty to the Huntsville Police Department and the State of Alabama, in assisting on a traffic accident that resulted in a fellow officer, Fallen Officer Eric Freeman, being fatally shot to death. On December 14, 2007, Officer Lambert arrived on the scene and observed the driver of the at-fault vehicle, who was believed to be intoxicated, sitting on the side of the road. As Officers Lambert and Freeman worked the accident and approached the intoxicated driver, the subject pulled out a small handgun and shot Officer Freeman in the head. Even though Officer Lambert was dealing with the emotions resulting from his fellow officer being killed, he, along with other officers arriving on the scene, immediately fought to subdue the offender and to gain control of his weapon. With the offender screaming at Officer Lambert to kill him, Officer Lambert fought to get him under control and in custody and his gun secured. This is a tremendous personal and professional accomplishment deserving the highest commendation of the Office of the Attorney General. Officer Lambert’s sustained, superior performance, coupled with his devotion to duty, is in keeping with the highest traditions of public service, and reflects great credit upon Officer Lambert, his family, the Huntsville Police Department, and the State of Alabama.”
The Attorney General honored those who made this ultimate sacrifice during the last year*, presenting certificates of valor to family members of the following:
· Officer Elizabeth Franklin of the Alabama Department of Corrections, who on December 7, 2007, died as a result of injuries she sustained one week earlier when she fell from a tower at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women;
· Officer William Eric Freeman of the Huntsville Police Department, who on December 15, 2007, died as a result of injuries he sustained from a gunshot he received while responding to an automobile accident the preceding day;
· Officer James D. Fezatte of the Millbrook Police Department, who on March 29, 2008, died as a result of injuries he sustained in an automobile accident while responding to a civil disturbance;
· Officer Kenneth (Greg) Surles of the Pell City Police Department, who on July 4, 2008, died as a result of injuries he sustained three weeks earlier when his patrol car was struck by a tractor-trailer;
“All of the officers we honor share one thing in common: they all lived and died the same way, as heroes serving the people of Alabama with honor and integrity,” said Attorney General King.
*Note: Because the Attorney General’s law enforcement conferences are held annually in the fall, some events noted in Certificates of Valor and Merit fall within the 2007 calendar year.