Law enforcement appreciation

Calhoun County Circuit Clerk Eli Henderson speaks with two Anniston police officers during a Law Enforcement Appreciation Week breakfast at the Calhoun County Courthouse on Monday.

Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

Lawmakers mingled with the law enforcers in Monday morning as the Calhoun County Courthouse hosted a breakfast for police officers and sheriff’s deputies in honor of Law Enforcement Appreciation Week.

State Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, and state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, read a proclamation at the courthouse, expressing gratitude and appreciation for the local police departments and Sheriff’s Office. The Circuit Clerk’s Office provided breakfast for law enforcement officers, and other courthouse departments will supply a morning meal every day this week for the men and women in blue.

“They do so much with so little support in my opinion, and they don’t complain, they don’t ask for much” Marsh said. “Unfortunately, we don’t get a chance to thank them as much as we should.”

Anniston police Chief Shane Denham, Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge and Sheriff Larry Amerson attended Monday’s breakfast along with officers from their respective agencies.

“This is very meaningful to see so much positivity when so many times the public only sees us in a negative light, when something bad happens,” Denham said. “This can be a thankless job, but we’re appreciative of the support we get.”

The idea for the breakfast originated in the Circuit Clerk’s Office. Circuit Clerk Eli Henderson said his employees wanted to team up with the Calhoun Women Behind the Badge group to provide donuts and coffee for the officers. The idea blossomed into a week-long breakfast at the courthouse.

“We file so many warrants, and when you go serve a warrant to a bad guy, you never know what’s going to happen,” Henderson said. “We get to know so many of our officers working at the courthouse, and we just wanted a way to let them know how much we appreciate what they do.”

The breakfast is a new addition to the appreciation week activities in Calhoun County. A candlelight vigil will take place tonight at Centennial Memorial Park; Friday the park will host the annual memorial to fallen officers.

Law Enforcement Appreciation Week was first celebrated in Calhoun County thanks to Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Matthew Wade. While attending the FBI academy, Wade said he was impressed with the bagpipe players in the honor guards in the New York and Washington police departments. He decided to get lessons on the instrument, and when a suggestion came for him to play at a national memorial in Washington, he decided Calhoun County needed its own way to honor fallen officers.

“I’m proud that we were the first here in the county to have an honor guard,” said Wade, who will play Friday at Centennial Park. “Now, Anniston and Oxford have one too.”

Amerson said there is an effort to make the annual ceremony on the Friday of Law Enforcement Appreciation Week the official memorial for the state of Alabama. A governor’s proclamation has made Centennial Memorial Park the official future home of a memorial to fallen police officers.

Wade said he keeps a journal of every time he plays his bagpipes. This Friday’s police memorial will be the 142nd time.

“I want something for my kids and my grandkids to look at, read the names of the people I played for,” Wade said. “It’s just something special for them, a little extra.”

Law Enforcement Appreciation Week events:

  • Law enforcement breakfast: 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday at Calhoun County Courthouse law library in Anniston
  • Candlelight vigil: 8 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Memorial Park in Anniston
  • 8th Annual Calhoun County Law Enforcement Memorial, 6 p.m. Friday at Centennial Memorial Park in Anniston