The Alabama First Responders Association held their inaugural awards dinner in Birmingham this past Thursday evening. Former White House Advisor, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, was the guest speaker.
The event began with a prayer by Constable Jonathan Barbee and a moment of silence for fallen First Responders. Attorney General Steve Marshall sent a special welcome video message thanking first responders and honoring the sacrifices they make each day.
After Dr. Gorka’s speech, there were 12 awards given to the best in each category. Awards were presented by Angela McClure and AFRA board member, Brett Trimble.
Chambers County Sheriff, Sid Lockhart, was presented the Chief Justice Perry Hooper, Sr. Lifetime of Service and Excellence in Leadership Award.
“Thank you! I want to thank my wife. I also want to thank Major T.J. Wood, I have a great department and I wouldn’t have been elected this many years had it not been for my employees. I am nothing without them. Thank you to everyone putting on this program tonight. The speakers were fantastic and the food was excellent.” said Sheriff Lockhart upon accepting his award.
Jefferson County Constable, Jonathan Barbee, was presented the Chief Justice Perry Hooper, Sr. Lifetime of Service and Excellence in Law Enforcement Award.
“It has meant the world to me to serve over the last ten years as a Deputy Constable and then a Constable. My wife and I had an opportunity to move back to Trussville, so I will be retiring at the end of the month. I’ve also recently been diagnosed with diabetes and it has been a struggle. This is the love of my life and I’m so glad to be here and I will always support First Responders. I want to thank my mom and dad and my wife. Thank you all so much and thank you to my Lord and Savior. This is truly a lifetime achievement award for me,” said Constable Barbee.
These top two awards were presented by Perry O. Hooper, Jr. in honor of his father, the late Alabama Chief Justice Perry Hooper, Sr.
“My Dad died about 4 years ago and he was a Marine. He just loved men and women in uniform and he brought up me and brothers knowing that all of you put your lives on the line everyday for us. Thank you for this. God Bless the USA,” said Perry O. Hooper, Jr. after presenting the awards.
Other award winners include, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Deputy Danielle Eaton, of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. The Firefighter of the Year, Clint Sills, of the Trussville Fire Department. The EMT of the Year, Arwen McGauley, of Blount EMT. The Outstanding Community Service Award, Deputy William Nolen, of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The Excellence in Law Enforcement and Community Service Award, Constable Robert Colvert, III, of Jefferson County. The Outstanding Community Service Award, Deputy Constable Joanne Sellers Barbee, of Jefferson County. The Lifetime of Service Memorial Award, Special Agent K-9 Faust, of the BNSF Railroad Police. The Excellence in Law Enforcement Award, Senior Special Agent Bryan Schaffer, of the BNSF Railroad Police. The Excellence in Community Service Award, Sheriff Mark Pettway, of Jefferson County. Finally, the Law Enforcement Agency of the Year, Trussville Police Department, Chief Eric Rush.
All awards were based on submissions to the association’s website by the general public.
“We are fortunate to have so many dedicated First Responders. This inaugural awards dinner was a success. We are proud of our nominees and our winners. We look forward to presenting awards to outstanding first responders again, next year,” says Angela McClure, Executive Director of the Alabama First Responders Association.
The Alabama First Responders Association was formed as a group of concerned first responders who saw the need to protect jobs, provide training and education, and be a voice for all first responders in Montgomery. This was the first event put on by the group. In the near future, the Alabama First Responders Association will be working with organizations to provide training and resources for first responders and departments across the state.