Al McGraw named Andalusia Police Department’s Officer of the Year

Published 2:45 pm Thursday, May 2, 2024

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Sgt. Gregory “Al” McGraw Jr., was recognized Monday night as the Andalusia Police Department’s officer of the year in a program hosted by Opp AMVETS Post 23.

APD Police Chief Paul Hudson and his command staff selected McGraw for the award, which was presented by Capt. Brett Holmes, who supervises APD’s criminal investigation division, where McGraw has worked for the past three years.

McGraw began his law enforcement career as a corrections officer at the Covington County Jail in 2012. He later became a patrol officer and graduated from the Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy. He was soon promoted to criminal investigations in the sheriff’s office.

“There, Al worked under the direction of Captain Mike Irwin, who Al still credits with helping him establish a strong investigation background,” Holmes said. “Mike and I are former partners at the District Attorney’s Office and often argue about who should receive the most credit for Al’s successes.

“Andalusia Police Chief Paul Hudson was so impressed with Al’s work, he hired him directly into APD’s criminal investigation division in the Summer of 2021,” Holmes said.

“Since that time, Al has taken on any and every type of case thrown his way,” Holmes said. “From financial exploitation to murder, Al approaches each case with the same consistent effort and methodical approach.

“In October of 2022, Al took the lead in the murder of 22-year-old Treyvous Cobbins. Over the next ten months, Al and his partners spent every extra moment of their workday putting together a very complex case that spanned from Covington County to nearby Conecuh, to even Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas.

“I can attest that working certain aspects of a case that takes you outside of your jurisdiction adds many new difficulties,” Holmes said. “However, Al never wavered. He drove hundreds of times to Evergreen collecting evidence and chasing witnesses, took plane rides to other states conducting interviews, and hunkered down in his office countless hours watching and documenting video.”

Ultimately, McGraw arrested five individuals for the murder.

“One of those individuals has been indicted for capital murder and, to my knowledge, that is the first capital murder indictment in Covington County in almost 20 years,” Holmes said. “One of the five defendants has already pleaded guilty and the other four remain incarcerated with no bond after Al testified in an Aniah’s law hearing for each defendant.”

Holmes said the work McGraw did on that case alone was enough to earn him the Officer of the Year award. However, he said, McGraw also handles other difficult cases.

“Al also handles the lion’s share of our sex crimes at APD,” Holmes said. “In the two years he has led that unit, he has cleared every single sex case reported with an arrest or as unfounded. He also has a 100 percent conviction rate in those cases, thus far.”

Outside of his regular duties, McGraw is also a member of the Covington County Incident Response Team. He was recognized in 2020 by Sheriff Blake Turman for showing bravery in the line of duty when he and his team members took fire from an individual inside a house.

“Al was able to take action which neutralized the threat, and no one lost their life,” Holmes said.

McGraw also is a firearms instructor, speaks frequently in local schools, is a member of the Covington County Child Advocacy Center Multi-Disciplinary Team, and is the part-time chief in Lockhart.

Another of McGraw’s hobbies is keeping himself in good physical condition through weight training.

“As a result of that, Chief Hudson has assigned Al to work with new cadets hired by APD to ensure they meet the physical requirements to not only succeed at the police academy but excel,” Holmes said. “I have been lucky enough to assist Al in some of those training sessions and I submit to you that he does much more than train these young men and women physically. He also spends that time talking to them about what it is like to be a police officer and the pressures that come along with the job. He is truly a mentor to each he works with.

“More importantly, Al is a good son, a good husband and a good father,” Holmes said. “I am sure of that by how proudly and openly he talks about his family.”

Holmes said he knew when he learned McGraw had been selected for the honor that he would be uncomfortable receiving it.

“Not that he doesn’t appreciate the honor, but right now he is sitting here thinking how all the things I have said were, or are, a team effort and not solely him,” Holmes said. “If there ever was a person that is a ‘We over me’ individual, it is this guy.”

After being presented with the award, McGraw said he would not be any of the things he is without three important components in his life.

“I appreciate all those kind words by Captain but I wouldn’t be, nor would I have accomplished, any of those things without God, my family, and my co-workers,” McGraw said. “I can’t thank you all enough for this recognition.”

AMVETS Post 23 hosts the recognition dinner each year and recognizes full-time officers chosen by department heads. Others honored Monday night included Officer Michael Holland, Opp Police Department; Sgt. Kaleb Piland, Florala Police Department; and Deputy Michael Cheshire, Covington County Sheriff’s Office.

Retired Andalusia Police Captain Jamey Wismer was the keynote speaker for the event, the group’s seventh, and spoke about what it takes to be a police officer. Wismer delivered a powerful message and spoke of his love of law enforcement and what an impact it had on his journey as a husband, father, and Christian.