From The Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — Attorney General Steve Marshall hosted approximately 600 Alabama law enforcement officials on Thursday for the 21st annual Law Enforcement Summit, which was conducted for the first time virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s Law Enforcement Summit linked hundreds of law enforcement offices from across the state with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, offering a day of virtual instruction on law enforcement techniques and responses to the unique challenges facing officers as they strive to protect the public.
“We need our local law enforcement to be engaged in our neighborhoods, stopping the bad guys and fostering a safe environment for the good ones,” said Attorney General Marshall. “But that kind of policing must be supported and welcomed by the citizens for whom law enforcement serves. Sadly, good policing has become more and more difficult because of our culture and societal attitudes toward law enforcement.”
This year’s summit featured nationally-recognized speaker Chief Mitchell Davis of Hazel Crest Police Department, Illinois. He presented his vision on fostering improved law enforcement relationships with the public. In the afternoon, Rachel Baribeau, of #ImChangingtheNarrative, provided her program on mental health for law enforcement.
A somber highlight of the day came with the commemoration of seven fallen officers who lost their lives in the line of duty since last year’s summit. Attorney General Marshall recognized the sacrifices of the following Alabama law enforcement officers:*
- Investigator Dornell Cousette, Tuscaloosa Police Department
Investigator Cousette was shot and killed on September 16, 2019, while attempting to serve a warrant at the home of a subject who was wanted for failing to appear on prior felony charges. Investigator Cousette was a U.S. Army veteran and served with the Tuscaloosa Police Department for 13 years. He is survived by his two daughters and fiancée.
- Sheriff John Williams, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Williams was shot and killed on November 23, 2019, while responding to a trespassing and noise complaint call at a convenience store in Hayneville. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Sheriff Williams served in law enforcement for more than 40 years. He is survived by his wife and children.
- Agent Billy Clardy III, Huntsville Police Department
Agent Clardy was shot and killed on December 6, 2019, while participating in a narcotics operation with the Gulf Coast HIDA Task Force in Huntsville. A U.S. Army veteran, Agent Clardy served with the Huntsville Police Department for 14 years and had previously served with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, the Ardmore Police Department, and the Fayetteville (Tennessee) Police Department. He is survived by his wife, five children, two brothers, and mother.
- Officer Nick O’Rear, Kimberly Police Department
Officer O’Rear was shot and killed on February 5, 2020, during a vehicle pursuit on Interstate 65 north of Birmingham. Officer O’Rear served with the Kimberly Police Department for one year and had previously served with the Ashville Police Department. He is survived by his parents, two children and was expecting a third at the time of his death.
- Lieutenant Stephen Williams, Moody Police Department
Lieutenant Williams was shot and killed on June 2, 2020, while responding to a call in which two subjects had barricaded themselves inside a hotel room. A U.S Air Force veteran, Lieutenant Williams had record of 23 years’ service to law enforcement service, including three years with the Moody Police Department, 2 ½ years with the Calera Police Department, 15 years with the Alabaster Police Department, and 2 ½ years with the Bessemer Police Department. He is survived by his wife and three children.
- Assistant Chief Gail Green-Gilliam, Phenix City Police Department
Assistant Chief Green-Gilliam lost her life on June 24, 2020, to COVID-19 as a result of exposure in the line of duty. Assistant Chief Green-Gilliam served with the Phenix City Police Department for 33 years. She is survived by her husband, son, two daughters, grandchildren and siblings.
- Sergeant Parnell Guyton, UAB Police Department
Sergeant Guyton lost his life on July 31, 2020, to COVID-19 as a result of exposure in the line of duty. Sergeant Guyton served with the UAB Police Department for 16 years. He is survived by his wife and son.
“While we all hope for a time when we no longer have a need to do so, we acknowledge that sacrifice is inherent in the calling of a law enforcement officer,” said Attorney General Marshall. “The men and women who—night and day—stand guard to protect us, do so not for fame or fortune, but out of a selfless duty to serve their fellow man.”
Because the Law Enforcement Summit was held virtually this year, Attorney General Marshall will personally present certificates of honor to each fallen officer’s family at a later date.