Officers take the field

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Local law enforcement personnel will be depending on each other, not only out in the working field, but also on the softball field, as the newly formed Blue Line team takes aim at completing its first season.

During the week, the softball team, which is made up of officers from the Covington County Sheriff’s Office, the Andalusia Police Department, Drug Task Force, Pardon and Parole, Advanced EMS, Instant Response Team, Opp Police Department, Alabama Beverage Control and other law enforcement officers’ relatives participate in a 13-team men’s softball league at the Andalusia Sports Complex. There is also a women’s league.

Blue Line coach Tony Holmes said the team was formed because of their “competitive” nature.

“I think it was joint call from some of the players,” Holmes said. “I think it was pretty much their idea and it just kind of sprang from there. The average age on the team is 35 and they’re all competitive and like to play. They do it for the brotherhood and the camaraderie.”

Walt Merrell, team manager, said the team is a good way for law enforcement officials to grow closer.

“A lot of those guys end up in situations when they get called to a scene and you’ve got to instinctively depend on the guy next to you to protect them,” Merrell said. “That doesn’t come solely from training, it comes from knowing each other and working together. This is a way for them to play together. It helps that bond as well.”

In addition, Merrell said playing softball provides the community a different point of view when it comes to a person’s perception of a law enforcement officer.

“They are just regular folks like you and me,” he said. “This gives the guys an outing and also lets the people see they are regular folks.”

Even though there are different departments within Covington County represented on the team, Holmes said any outside competition is left off the field.

“You don’t see it here,” Holmes said. “They play well together. They almost think for one another on this field and if one of them makes an error they pick them up and if one of them makes a play, then they congratulate them on a job well done.”

On Tuesday night, the Blue Line was playing Vector Aerospace. The Blue Line team defeated Vector Aerospace, 19-4.

The Blue Line is 3-4 on the season right now and they hope to close out the season on a successful note. They will also be competing in an annual end-of-the-year tournament June 26-27 at the Andalusia Sports Complex.

“We’re going to close out strong,” Holmes said. “I’m glad to see that they have built a team and come together and that they are able to play.

“I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s just a good group of young men.”