MVES bands together for officer whose car was torched

Alabaster firefighters work to extinguish Jamison Lee's patrol car on Sept. 9 after it was intentionally set on fire. (File)

Alabaster firefighters work to extinguish Jamison Lee’s patrol car on Sept. 9 after it was intentionally set on fire. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Meadow View Elementary School resource officer Jamison Lee didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary when the school’s principal asked for his help in the library on Sept. 18.

“I had just finished directing traffic as school let out and was called back to the school to assist the principal, Mrs. (Rachea) Simms, with what I believed to be a school issue,” Lee wrote in an email.

But when Lee entered the library after directing afternoon traffic out of the school, he was shocked to see the entire MVES staff there to welcome him.

Several days before Lee’s afterschool surprise, his police cruiser was set ablaze in the parking lot of a church off Alabama 119 while it was parked for the night.

At about 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 9, the department received a report of one of their patrol cars burning in the parking lot of a church on Alabama 119. When officers arrived on the scene, they discovered Lee’s Ford Crown Victoria patrol car engulfed in flames.

According to Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney, the car was intentionally set on fire and was declared a total loss. As of Sept. 22, the department was still investigating the incident.

Although the police department’s insurance helped the department with replacing the vehicle, several of Lee’s personal belongings in the vehicle when it was set on fire were not covered.

When she heard of the incident, MVES first-grade teacher Michelle Martin organized a faculty fundraiser to help Lee replace his items lost in the blaze.

“She took it upon herself to collect money from the faculty to donate to officer Lee,” Simms said. “It was a terrific response. Almost every staff member participated.”

When Lee walked into the library, the staff members presented him with the money they had collected.

“When I opened the envelope, I was truly shocked and utterly speechless,” Lee wrote. “As a police officer, I got into this line of work to help others and the community, never expecting anything in return.

“However, being on the other side and being helped by the community was truly surreal and a moment I promise to never forget!” Lee wrote. “Thank you all to my MVES Family, it is truly an honor to work alongside you every day! “