Opelika police officers share personal stories

By Suzanne Montgomery
Opelika Observer

Every day, the men and women of the Opelika Police Department work to enforce order and protect the citizend of Opelika. But the faces of those who serve might be unfamiliar to many in the community. This is the first in a monthly series featuring and honoring those who are serving on the Opelika police force.
Officer Craig Vickers has served on the Opelika Police Force since August 1999, and he works each day with his narcotics detector dog Buddy. “He’s just a good old friend, too,” said Vickers.
Vickers is a native of Opelika who decided to join the Opelika local police force because of an officer on the force who influenced and mentored him when he was a youth.
Officer Marlea McBride joined the Opelika Police Force in August 2007, immediately upon graduating from Auburn University. McBride is a native of Madison but chose to make the Opelika area her home.
McBride said after taking a personality test to help her determine her career path, she knew she wanted to make her life one of service to others. In her senior year at Auburn she signed up to be a Ride-a-long Reserve officer, which she said cemented her desire to go into police work and ultimately to serve as one of two women currently working in the Opelika Police Department.
Sgt. Frank Crnko has served in the Opelika Police Department since July 2002. He grew up in Huntsville and graduated from high school in Salt Lake City, Utah, but he said because he really liked the Opelika/Auburn area, he decided to make this community his home.
Crnko said he remembers wanting to become a police officer since the age of 8. He was positively influenced in the fifth grade by a DARE officer and knew he wanted to grow up to be like his mentor.
“I was very aware of my behavior all my life as I grew up because I never wanted to do anything that would cast a shadow over me and prevent me from my career choice,” said Crnko.
Officer John Pruitt has served in the Opelika Police Department for 21 years. He is a graduate of Opelika High School. Upon his graduation, he entered the United States Air Force Reserve and went through basic training in San Antonio, Texas. In April 1987, while still serving in the Air Force Reserve, he came back to Opelika to work in the Lee County Sheriff’s office.
Pruitt’s dad is retired police officer Lt. John Pruitt Sr., who served in the OPD for 26 years. Pruitt said he likes serving the community of Opelika “because it’s home.”