As I sit in my office and look out over the city, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in the change that has occurred in Opelika over the past year. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for our community and the effects of this change have truly been brought to light. We’ve had an officer struck and dragged by a vehicle, two senseless murders, an assault on an elderly woman and then a bank robbery. Back-to-back incidents like these can sometimes break a community, however, Opelika remained steadfast! You did not waiver or shrink from responsibility and worked to be a part of the solution.
Through each of these horrible incidents, citizens stood up and spoke up. I cannot remember a time in my policing career when we have had so many people speak up about what they saw and knew. We had a parking lot full of witnesses when our officer was injured, neighbors who helped us contact family members when a suspect was barricaded in his home after stabbing his sister, and several people stand up at a murder scene and say, “Enough is enough, this senselessness has to stop!” These people encouraged others to band together and speak up. Our department has been flooded with calls and tips that furthered all of these investigations and have led to the arrests of two murder suspects. We also received several calls of well wishes for our injured officer and a few calls with words of thanks and encouragement. This strengthened resolve was unheard of just a few short years ago. Even though our detectives continue to work on cases daily where no one has come forward we maintain hope. Hope this shift not only continues but empowers those who were too afraid to speak up at the time, to come forward now with information to help close those cases.
I am proud of our citizens for coming together and deciding they want better for the community. I am elated to stand beside them and support them in order to bring successful conclusions to these types of incidents. We would not have been able to bring justice to these victims without your help, so I thank each and every one of you for standing up and speaking out. We will not forget how you have helped change the culture of our community and know we are on our way to changing the world from Opelika, Alabama.
Shane D. Healey
Chief of Police
Opelika Police Department