Advisory Committee honors outgoing police chief

Chief Denham

Police Citizen Advisory Committee member Joanne Pope presents a plaque Wednesday to retiring Anniston police Chief Shane Denham to applause during roll call at APD. 

A retiring police executive was honored Wednesday for the role he’s had in “fostering better communication between the Anniston community and local law enforcement.”

That phrase was on the plaque presented to Anniston police Chief Shane Denham by members of the Anniston Police Citizen Advisory Committee during a brief ceremony at Justin Sollohub Justice Center. 

Committee chair David Baker said that because Denham plans to retire in June, members of the group felt the need to recognize him for his role in starting the committee years ago.

“He has called on us and we have called on them to do a lot,” Baker said. “The community at large is better off with him when we had him and we’re going to miss him.”

Denham said the award came as a pleasant surprise, and he thanked the committee for it. He said he and member General Jackson and Baker were longtime friends of his and he expects they’ll be friends after he retires.

“David has always been a cool head and a steady rock in the community,” Denham said.

According to Denham, the committee was founded in 2014. Denham said the United States Department of Justice recommends all “progressive” police departments have groups like the committee.

Baker said Denham worked with former Mayor Vaughn Stewart and former city manager Brian Johnson to get the group started.

Since then, Denham said, the committee’s impact on Anniston has “all been positive.” He said the committee has acted as a liaison between the department and worked to dispel rumors or conflicts between officers and the public.

He said the committee has held plenty of meetings, all open to the public, at places such as the police station, municipal court and every community center in the city..

“That has been an outlet for them to come to,” Denham said.

Denham said there have been times where he’s invited committee members to view body cam footage of an incident and make judgements on how the situation was handled.

“That has been very helpful,” Denham said.

Denham was a veteran of the department, nearly 18 years, when he was named chief in March 2013 at age 42. He began his law enforcement career as a deputy with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office in 1992, working in the jail there until he took a job as a patrol officer with the Anniston Police Department in 1995.