Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol honored at awards dinner
By CASSANDRA MICKENS / Associate Editor
CHELSEA — Volunteer members of the Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol were honored at their annual awards dinner at the Liberty Baptist Church Fellowship Hall Feb. 25.
The Chelsea Citizen Observer Patrol (COP) is an all-volunteer organization sponsored by the city of Chelsea and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. The group is comprised of about 30 Chelsea residents who, after training, patrol neighborhoods and business districts in an effort to deter crime and assist in emergencies such as auto accidents. COP also assists with community events such as the annual Chelsea Christmas Parade and last year’s inaugural Blue White Color Dash 5K run/walk.
The honors come on the heels of the city of Chelsea being named one of the 10 best places to live in Alabama, according to a Movoto Real Estate blog. The city ranked at No. 7 and was deemed one of the safest cities in the state, with a crime rate 82 percent lower than the state average.
Guests, among them Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven, Chelsea City Council members, Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry and representatives of the Birmingham and Montgomery police departments, dined on a seafood buffet dinner as Montgomery Police Department Chief Kevin J. Murphy delivered the keynote address.
Murphy, who was appointed chief of police in 2011, said the COP program is a benefit to all law enforcement and the public.
“It’s so important to the deputies and the officers, and we want you to know that you matter. You matter very much,” Murphy said.
In addition to protecting and serving, Murphy said the Montgomery Police Department is focused on educating the public inside and outside state lines. Murphy presented a video documenting the history of the Montgomery Police Department. After attending a national law enforcement conference, Murphy realized the image of southern law enforcement needed an overhaul.
“Someone at the conference asked me, ‘Do you still beat people on the bridge?'” Murphy said.
“Sometimes the South, sometimes Alabama, sometimes Montgomery can be seen through that lens of 50, 60 years ago, and it’s a duty of ours to change that persona,” Murphy said.
“At the beginning of the video, you only see white faces, and then you see the progression over time. We’ve come a long way, but progress takes time, and progress is made with people like you, with volunteers who get involved, who speak up,” Murphy said.
In 2013, the Chelsea COP volunteered 4,830 hours, logged 12,665 miles on patrol, and responded to 66 incidents, saving the city of Chelsea $108,675.
Chelsea COP Director Bill Robertson and Associate Director Matthew Mellen presented a faux $108,675 check to Niven, who graciously accepted it.
“I’m going to take this to the bank, cash it and bring the money to you at your next meeting,” Niven said to laughs from the audience.
The 2013 Chelsea COP honorees are:
- COP Volunteer of the Year Award – Joel and Roberta Dauber
- COP Rookie Volunteer of the Year Award – Jim Powers
- Significant Contribution to an Arrest Certificate – Matt Mellen, John Devenyns and Mike Echols
- Presidential Volunteer Service Award – Jim Powers (bronze), Jim Thornton (bronze), Bill Robertson (gold) and Joel Dauber (gold)
- Ten-Year Service Award – Mavis Efferson
- Five-Year Service Award – Mike Echols and Martha Coffey
- Perfect Attendance – Eddie Huggins, Donald Shirley, Dale Neuendorf, Mike Cooley, Patricia Hipps, Bill Robertson and Jim Powers
- 150 or more patrol hours – Eddie Huggins, Sallie Williams, Donald Shirley, Pat McDanal, Joe Murphy, John Waggener, Dale Neuendorf, Martha Coffey, Mike Cooley, Patricia Hipps, John Devenyns, Matt Mellen, Joel Dauber, Roberta Dauber, Bill Robertson and Jim Powers
- Participation in 10 or more incidents – Bill Weldon, Eddie Huggins, Sallie Williams, Pat McDanal, Joe Murphy, John Waggener, Dale Neuendorf, Martha Coffey, John Peacock, Mike Cooley, Patricia Hipps, Matt Mellen, Joel Dauber, Bill Robertson, Roberta Dauber and Jim Powers
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