Butler County remembers, recognizes law enforcement professionals

Published 1:00 pm Monday, May 22, 2023

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By: Tiffany Hickman  

On May 18, the Greenville Police Department hosted its 24th annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College’s (LBW) Wendell Mitchell Conference Center in Greenville to remember the sacrifices of local peace officers. 

According to Greenville Police Chief Justin Lovvorn, the program honored local law enforcement and the contribution they make in Butler County communities.

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“This is a time that we honor our Law Enforcement Professionals, for their kindness, toughness, humility, and decency, and determination,” Lovvorn said.

Distinguished guests included many officials and dignitaries from across Alabama, but the honorees were all from Butler County. Lovvorn acted as host and master of ceremony for the event. The room was filled with city and county officials, community members, who recognized officers and their families for their bravery, sacrifice, and community service.

He  reflected on the bravery it takes to “run towards gunfire”  and emphasized a great lesson learned during his career. 

“There is no time for agendas or politics; despite differences of religion, the goal is to save lives,” Lovvorn said. 

President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation in 1962, designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and declaring the week it falls on as National Police Week to honor those officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Since 1904, the Greenville Police Department and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office have each lost four members who were killed on duty 

After the invocation, the Fort Dale fourth grade choir offered a patriotic tribute.  The children performed in the spirit of the hour, moving guests with their renditions of “A Song of Peace,” and “Proud to be an American.”

Attorney General Steve Marshall thanked sponsors of the event and addressed the young people in the room. 

“You have to be different and crazy to run into danger, to be willing to help total strangers,” Marshall said. 

He expressed to them the significance of the sacrifices law enforcement officers often make, specifically the dangers and time away from families, all while hoping to make it back home at the end of the day.

A number of special awards were given to officers during the event, including the Gary Wayne Heath Education Award. Lieutenant Josh Womack was named this year’s award recipient, but was not in attendance due to pertinent, ongoing training. 

Officer Gary Wayne Heath was killed in the line of duty in 1994. His family   attended the May 18 memorial service, in gratitude for the way the Greenville Police Department continues to honor and support them after the tragic loss. Lovvorn, Sergeant Tom Powell, and Captain Byron Russell each received the Life Saving Award. The department also presented Sergeant Tony Gordon, the honor of Officer of the Year, and Sheriff Danny Bond presented the Deputy of the Year Award to Deputy Paul Castille.

The ceremony concluded with a musical  selection by Kaylee Russell, and a closing prayer by Assistant Chief Anthony Barganier, as he blessed the food that was prepared for the reception that followed. 

Lovvorn reminded community members that their support is vital to the department’s efforts to provide safety services in Butler County

“We can’t do anything without community support, we are here to support you and help you, not just in bad times, but good times as well,” Lovvorn said. 

The event’s program highlighted a scripture focus that reminded attendees of the role law enforcement officers take in keeping peace in their communities.

Matthew 5:9 reads, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”