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Three longtime TPD officers retire

Calista Everage stood at the door of the Municipal Courtroom and hugged the neck of everyone who came to say goodbye on Thursday.

“I love you,” she said. “Thanks for coming out.”

An hour later, she was fighting back tears, as the standing-room only crowd of friends, family, community leaders and members of the local, state and federal judiciary and law enforcement had shared tributes and well wishes as Everage marked her retirement after 30 years with the Troy Police Department.

“I just want to thank the mayor and the council for making this a place I would want to work and making this a place I could make a living,” she said. “For making it a place where sometimes I would want to come to work and not even care if I got paid … I love all of you. Now, go home to your families. God bless you.

Everage, the first female police officer to join the Troy force, was one of three officers to retire on Thursday. The others included Sgt. Chuck Railey and Jimmy Connell, a supervisor over dispatch and communications.

“We lost some good people today,” Chief Anthony Everage said late Thursday. “We really did. Jimmy was a good dispatcher, he was a good employee, and we’re going to miss him.”

Both Calista Everage and Railey were honored at public retirement ceremonies; Connell chose to hold a private ceremony.

“The greatest tribute I can see is when you can see all the local judiciary here: the DA, the judges, a federal judge … that says a lot,” Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said during Everage’s ceremony. “She’s probably changed a lot of lives and created a lot of responsible citizens today. She’s had some very tough cases and some very emotional cases. But Calista Everage, she’s put a lot of bad people where they needed to be. And that’s important.”

More than a dozen people paid tribute to Everage during the ceremony, including Leura Canary, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama; U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller; Special Agent Jennifer Rudden with the ATF; assistant District Attorney Tom Anderson; and fellow active duty and retired officers.

“She really was a trailblazer and a icebreaker,” said retired officer David Johnson. “She’s also the only police office I know who has shot at a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, been shot at by an American Indian and chased a weedeater.”

Councilman Johnny Witherington recalled Everage’s compassion and commitment to the job. “Twenty-one years ago this month I got a call that my son had been hit by a car … when I got there, there were two figures in the road: one was laying on his back and the other was on her knees. Calista was there, holding his hand, and I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, more specifically to him … to those of you tasked with stepping up, I how you will do so with the compassion this fine officer has show throughout the years.”

And, finally, Lewis Fannin summed it up: “There’s people who come into your life who are impact people because they change your life … if I had to say there’s anyone I worked with who’s an impact person, it had to be her.”

Railey, who is retiring early due to medical issues, came to the police force in 1987, fulfilling his lifelong dream of becoming a police officer. “It’s all I ever wanted to do,” he said. “From the time I was five years old.”

His dedication to the job earned him the respect of his peers and of the community.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the job performance of Chuck through the years and the times he put his life on the line so I could sleep at night,” Lunsford said.

Chief Everage agreed. “You could always count on Chuck to do the right thing, and that comes from within: your character, your integrity,” he said. “There were times he probably told me the truth when the truth didn’t come easy. But, seriously, you’ll be missed. You’re a part of this police department and a part of this family.”

Councilman Jason Reeves said Railey has done more for building community relations than any other officer on the force. “There’s not a child in Troy who doesn’t know who Chuck is,” he said. “I’ve got pictures at my house of him going to preschools and showing the kids the police car, letting them crawl inside it and learning that police are your friends. Nobody has done more for inroads for the police department in the community than Chuck has.”

Fannin worked with Railey and described the retiring officer as “dependable as a Timex watch.” “Whether it was a special detail uptown or an assignment at the university, his standard answer was always ‘I got it.’ And he did.”

Railey described himself as “a truly blessed man. God’s had me in his hand a truly long time. He’s blessed me with a wife and children, a wonderful family and this job. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do …

“Now, I’ve been given a great opportunity and God’s got it now, too.”