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Thomas named VP of APOA

Pike County’s own Sheriff Russell Thomas is making a name for himself in one of Alabama’s most prestigious law enforcement organizations.

In its 77th annual business and training conference, the Alabama Peace Officers Association (APOA) named Thomas it’s 3rd Vice President.

“That puts him in line to become president of the peace officers association,” said APOA Executive Director Ted Payne.

That will happen in 2013 after Thomas serves one-year terms as 3rd, 2nd and 1st Vice President of the association.

Thomas was elevated to the position by his peers.

“They (candidates) have to be nominated by the membership and elected,” Payne said.

Thomas was happy to answer the calling.

“I was asked by the Executive Director Ted Payne (and others), to run” he said.

“I appreciated being asked, it was an honor.”

When Thomas becomes the APOA President 2013 he will be one of only six Sheriffs in Alabama history to have the distinction of holding the presidency of both the APOA and the Alabama Sheriff’s Association.

Outgoing APOA President Wallace Hill said he is confident the organization is being left in good hands.

“Sheriff Thomas is going to be a great one,” Hill said. “He’ll be a great asset for us.”

For Thomas, the opportunity is itself an asset.

“It’s a privilege to serve as the vice president,” he said.

The APOA was organized in 1933 and is made up of crime-fighting agencies on the federal, state, county and municipal levels.

“We represent nearly 5000 law enforcement officers throughout the state of Alabama,” Payne said.

In addition to providing training and continuing education law enforcement, the association works with students and teachers in grade school and provides aid to beneficiaries of fallen officers. The APOA encourages mass participation from agencies throughout the state.

The Pike County Sheriff’s Department is one of only 97 agencies in Alabama with 100 percent participation from its personnel.

Thomas’ dedication to the organization has probably had something to with that.

“It’s an important organization,” he said.

“We work hard helping to pass legislation and also to kill bad legislation. There’s a lot of good men in the organization and we have good leadership in Ted Payne.”

Thomas said being involved with the organization is a valuable networking tool and the contacts he makes are beneficial when help is needed from outside law enforcement entities.

Thomas was elected to the position in mid-June at a Guntersville conference.