Officers work a true call to service

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I wasn’t ever one of those little girls with the same dream. I always had a lot of different dreams.

I dreamed of what I’d be when I “grow up” — a singer, an actress, a teacher, doctor, lawyer, nurse. That was a dream that changed as often as the weather.

I dreamed of imaginary places and people. I dreamed of everything but the schoolwork I had in front of me. I guess I’ve always been a wondering spirit.

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So when I finally “grew up” and became a writer, it wasn’t surprising to me to look back on all those dreams and see them unfulfilled. The personalities of most news reporters I meet are quite similar to mine — quirky, aloof, easily-humored.

When I have a pen in hand (or my hands to a keyboard), I know that writing is the dream I’d been chasing for so many years. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I can look back and see that it’s been steeped in my spirit all along.

I’ve been thinking about all that dreaming a lot the past few weeks, as I’ve been interviewing some of Pike County’s top law enforcement officers in preparation for Police Memorial Week this week.

The officers, chosen by their respective agency heads, have some of the most honorable jobs of us all. And while I didn’t interview each of the five chosen, the two I did seemed to have stories similar to my own.

Perhaps they weren’t quite as drifty as I seemed to be. In fact they didn’t indicate they were at all. But neither Troy Police Corp. John Jerkins or State Trooper’s Drew Brooks said they had always dreamed of becoming a police officer one day; they both instead were built with a desire to serve.

And that is what the two officers do the best way any person could — offering their lives. It’s not just John and Drew. It’s their co-workers at the Troy Police Department and the Alabama State Troopers Office; their companion law enforcement agencies the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Troy University Police and the Brundidge Police Department.

It’s all the men and women across the county who put on their uniforms every day — or night — and risk their lives each time they go to work … each time they answer a call.

It’s something I don’t think about often. That each time an officer pulls over a speedy traveler or answers a house call or goes to something much more serious, it’s a risk. Sure they get paid for what they do, but the job is one that must go beyond a paycheck — it’s one that truly must be a call to duty.

Take John Jerkins, for example, who just a few months ago broke his knee to the point he needed surgery while attempting to arrest an alleged trespasser. He’s spent the last two months out of work, and what does he have to say about it? “Oh well, it’s just part of the job. At least it wasn’t much worse.”

He’s right. That is something to be grateful for this week. But also this week, Pike County residents should take a moment and remember those who weren’t so fortunate. Those are: TPD’s Will G. Jackson, 1905; Hayden Youngblood, 1962; Cecil Sullivan, 1967; Billy Dease, 1968; Steve Watkins, 1981; Alabama Conservation Officer Grady Russell Jackson, 1984; TPD Sgt. Sam “Bo” Botts III, 1985; Trooper R.W. “Bob” Jones, 1991; Former Troy University and City Police Chief John P. Lee, 2008; and Troy University PD’s Steve Rodgers, 2009. They are people I’ve never known.

And yet, they are people I respect because in one way or another, they protected me or my community. And those who continue to do so every day gain my utmost respect all the same.

It’s easy to forget about the reality of the risks those sworn to protect Pike County take, the sacrifices made by them and their families. It’s easy to forget, but this week if nothing else, let’s all remember.

It’s the least we can do for Pike County’s finest, standing on the front line of battle every day.

Holli Keaton can be reached at