Sheriff: Helping others is our job

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 15, 2014



Wednesday’s annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service was perhaps even more somber than usual , as officers and their families attended with fresh grief for a fallen brother in blue.

Just last month, Deputy Heath Kelley died in an automobile accident while responding to a call. Still-raw grief was evident as Sheriff Dennis Meeks took his turn at the podium.

“Thank you for the thoughts, prayers, cards and calls during this difficult time our offices, Anita (Kelley) and her family faces at the loss of one of our own.”

“In 2014, 42 agencies in 24 states have lost officers,” Meeks said. “That’s 42 too many, and we grieve with those families.

“They were officers like each of you, who headed out for normal, a routine day in the streets,” Meeks said. “A short 26 days ago, we were so sadly reminded, there are no normal, routine days on the street, for our fellow officer and comrade, William Heath Kelley, lost his life responding to a fellow citizen in need of help.”

Surrounded by family members, Anita Kelley cried quietly as Meeks spoke.

Helping others is what officers are called to do, Meeks said.

“We were reminded that nothing is normal; nothing is routine. So kiss your spouse and kids when you leave, and tell them that you love them.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff; life is too short,” he said. “Stay safe, watch each other’s back, and return home to your families.”

Rain moved the memorial service from the courthouse to the city’s law enforcement training center. Kelley’s name has already been added to the law enforcement memorial there.

Other platform speakers were Andalusia Acting Police Chief Paul Hudson; Mayor Earl Johnson; Chief Deputy David Anderson; District Attorney Walt Merrell; and chaplains Graham Tucker and Leroy Cole.