BY MICHELLE KEY
The Opelika Police Academy Alumni Association (OPAAA) hosted the inaugural Chief’s Banquet last week to raise money for the commission of a mural to be painted and installed inside the police department.
Twenty-one officers were nominated for OPD Community Officers of the Year, and eight officers were nominated for the designation of Officer of the Year.
Officer Kevin Quintana was named the OPD Officer of the Year during the event.
The four officers who were recognized as Community Officers of the Year are:
• Sgt. James Daniel
• Officer Wade Foster
• Officer Montrez Hunter and
• Officer Brandon Phillips.
During the event, Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey was “roasted” by Daniels and Ward 5 Council Member Todd Rauch.
After the laughter died down, Rauch turned serious and praised Healey.
“He is one of a kind,” Rauch said. “When you have a police chief, you want that person to be the ‘Atticus’ in your community. You want them to be fighting for everything else that people aren’t brave enough to fight for. They have to stand up for what’s right, and they have to stand up for justice. And he imbibes that. He is so good with his leadership that he shares that with his officers.”
Healey spoke to the audience and thanked the community for its support.
“We could not do what we do without those of y’all in this room and your support, your kind words, the moments that you take to support us, to show up, to be there,” Healey said. “No matter where it is that you plug in to this community, it is each and every one of y’all that has allowed us to stand beside you and participate in some of the things you do to make this community stronger.”
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller presented a proclamation issued by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to Healey honoring him for his service and dedication to the Opelika community, especially for his work in the Together Opelika campaign. Healey was presented with the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Opelika Police Academy Alumni Association.
Alumi Association President Sherry Cook announced that the award given to Healey will be given out annually and will be renamed as the Shane Healey Leadership Award.
The event raised $25,000 and a check was presented to Opelika native and artist Carol Bandy Carson in the amount of $15,000 for the mural that she has been commissioned to create for the police department.
“This has been a beautiful, beautiful evening to celebrate our police chief and to honor those officers who put their lives on the line everyday for us,” Cook said. “So will you please join us as we join them to support what they are doing in the community to build relationships … and when we work together we can strengthen our community, and we can really stand for what he said ‘Together Opelika’” .