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Special to the News
Attorney General Steve Marshall yesterday hosted approximately 850 law enforcement officials who registered from all over the state of Alabama for the twenty-second annual Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Summit.
The 2021 summit offered a day of instruction for police officers, sheriff’s offices and state law enforcement officials.
“I am honored to work with law enforcement officers from throughout our great state, and I am impressed by, and grateful for, your dedication to protect our citizens and enforce the law,” Marshall told those gathered at the summit. “In these troubling times of hostility and disrespect toward law enforcement, I know the people of Alabama join me in thanking you for your service and sacrifice as you risk your lives every day to ensure public safety.”
This year’s event began with a session about the mission of the newly formed Alabama Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance from Coordinator Chris Lim and Special Agent Cameron Perry, both from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.
Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. Through force, fraud and coercion, traffickers push their victims into demeaning forms of abuse, from sexual exploitation to domestic servitude.
Marshall has declared putting an end to human trafficking in Alabama as one of his top priorities. The Alabama Anti-Human Trafficking Alliance, which is co-led by Marshall, directs the expertise and resources of state and federal law-enforcement agencies and nongovernmental groups, forming a united and powerful front in fighting this scourge on our society.
The summit also featured an in-depth presentation on “Leadership for a Lifetime — How the Past Prepares us for the Future” from internationally renowned speaker and law enforcement instructor Paul Butler. A retired career South Carolina law enforcement officer, Butler challenges public safety professionals to be their best in serving the public.
“Alabama has among the most dedicated and highly motivated law enforcement professionals in the country, and we want to continue raising the bar of their performance,” said Marshall.
The gathering also reflected a somber tone with the commemoration of fallen officers who lost their lives in the line of duty during the past year. Marshall recognized the sacrifices of the following fallen officers:
Officer Randall Versie Smith, formerly of the Birmingham Police Department, died on December 28, 2020, as the result of complications from an inadvertent gunshot wound suffered when he was rescuing a small child from an armed man in 1995. Officer Smith underwent lengthy surgery and was in a coma for several weeks. The wound left him partially deaf, partially blind and permanently disabled. A U.S. Army veteran, he had served with the Birmingham Police Department for eight years.
Lieutenant Jeff Bain of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office died on January 3, 2021, from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in a presumed exposure while on duty. A U.S. Army veteran, he had served with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office for 19 years and in law enforcement for 30 years. He is survived by his wife, four children, five grandchildren, his parents and two brothers.
Deputy Sheriff William H. Smith of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office died on June 6, 2021. Deputy Smith gave his life attempting to rescue three distressed swimmers in the Gulf of Mexico. He had served with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office for seven years, previously serving with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and also as a firefighter for 30 years.
Officer Marquis Dewon Moorer of the Selma Police Department was shot and killed in an ambush at his apartment while taking a meal break on July 27, 2021. His significant other was also wounded in the attack.
Corrections Officer Maurice “Reese” Jackson of the Robertsdale Police Department died on August 3, 2021, from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty. He served with the Robertsdale Police Department for four years, and is survived by his wife and two children.
Officer Juan Manuel Gomez-Lopez of the Pelham Police Department died on August 14, 2021, from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty. A U.S. Army veteran, he had served with the Pelham Police Department for 11 years, and previously with the Albertville Police Department for four years. He was awarded posthumously the Shelby County Chamber Police Officer of the Year for Pelham. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son.
Deputy Sheriff Harry “Buddy” Hutchinson of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office died on August 21, 2021, as the result of complications of contracting COVID-19 while he was assigned to the Blount County Courthouse. A U.S. Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, he had served with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Officer Brandon Wyatt Ard of the Orange Beach Police Department died on August 26, 2021, from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in a presumed exposure while assigned to beach patrol. A U.S. Navy veteran, he had served with the Orange Beach Police Department for 24 years. He is survived by his two daughters.
Investigator Richard Wendell Humphrey of the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office died on September 3, 2021, from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty. With more than 27 years in law enforcement, he had served with the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office for four years, and previously with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee, the Foley Police Department and the Bay Minette Police Department. He is survived by his son and daughter, 10 grandchildren, his parents, a brother and two sisters.
Deputy Willie Hall of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office died on September 18, 2021, from complications as the result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty. A U.S. Army veteran, he served 20 years with the Birmingham Police Department and the past three years with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Sergeant James Nicholas “Nick” Risner of the Sheffield Police Department died on October 2, 2021, from gunshot wounds suffered the previous day while blocking a violent offender from entering a Walmart parking lot, giving his life to shield others from harm. A U.S. Army Reserve veteran, he had served with the Sheffield Police Department for eight years.
“These are increasingly difficult times for those sworn to preserve the peace, and these deaths are a somber reminder of the dangers that our law enforcement officers face every day with courage and dedication,” said Attorney General Marshall. “We pause to remember these officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice for public safety. Let us all be encouraged as we remember and honor their legacy of commitment and devotion to serve and protect the public.”
The 2021 Attorney General Law Enforcement Summit was held at Church of the Highlands in Montgomery.