Nearly three decades ago things were a lot different. George H. W. Bush was replacing Ronald Reagan as President of the United States, The Cold War was ending and the Berlin Wall was falling. the average gallon of gas was $.97, and you could buy a brand new Ford Probe for just over $12,000. Epidemics like Crack and AIDS were on the rise, mistrust and protest helped to separate the country over a myriad of topics, and yet times seemed simpler then.
Computers were few and far between, interstates weren’t near as crowded as they are today, and policing was done with a notebook, a pen, and a nightstick. They didn’t have Tasers, some people still carried “wheel” guns, and the mobile radios were heavier than carrying a cinder block on your side. Now we have computers in every patrol car, applications that do most of our paperwork, and cell phones that we utilize as much as our computers to access information. We have computers in every office, and radio equipment that allows us to communicate beyond our jurisdiction, and access information from other jurisdictions real time to insure we are able to handle cases in a timely manner.
In 1989, Terry “Tiny” Turner was the Police Chief here in Ashland, and he hired a young budding officer who had grown up in the area, and had served in the National Guard. He began work with the Ashland Police Department and attended the Northeast Alabama Police Academy (now known as Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy). Back then the academy wasn’t as long as the academy is now, and was held on JSU’s campus. This officer finished the academy and was put on night shift patrol and immediately made an impact on the community. By 1992 he was made the shift sergeant and served in that role until he came off the road, and left to become a truck driver in the year 2000. Over the next several years he would transition back and forth, never truly getting law enforcement out of his blood, and finally in 2004 he returned to full time status and has served since.
Cecil Chappell was that officer, and he has valiantly served his community with honesty and respect from all who have ever had many dealings with him. He has worked to try to make his department, community, and city. During his tenure he has worn many hats for the department. In 2013 he served as the Interim Chief, and was appointed department chaplain in 2014 after completing the Chaplains Basic Academy. In 2016, Cecil was promoted to Code Enforcement/Animal Control where he currently works. He has worked to help clean up the issues around town, and has been an asset in making our city a wonderful place to live.
In 2017, Cecil was given the Officer of the Year award from the Exchange Club, for his many years of service and dedication to the cause of making our communities safer. He has definitely been a strategic partner in the many attempts of the Ashland Police Department to make our city safer, better, and all around wonderful to live in. His infectious smile and sunshine attitude always provides his coworkers the ability to see the bright side of life. And that is one of the biggest things that will be missed.
You see on August 27, 2018, Cecil announced to me that he was retiring. This was a blow to me and my department for sure, because he has been a part of this department for nearly 30 years. He has worked for four different chiefs and six different mayors. He has seen officers move on, and officers go away. He has worked many hours of night shift, and answered some of the worst calls imaginable. But one thing still remains, that loving, caring attitude that helps to bring a smile to each person’s face. Those years of experience, that smiling face, those things can never be replaced. There will always be something special about the way he handled his self and helped to shape others going into law enforcement. I know that he has had an impact on my life, on my career and so to that I thank him. I honor him for a job well done, and congratulate him on reaching such a wonderful milestone. I also wish him the best adventures and times of relaxation, because he has earned every minute of it. And no one said he was through, who knows what he might do with his spare time when he isn’t fishing or off “loafering” around. One thing is certain though, the Ashland Police Department and the City of Ashland is better because we knew him and got to spend 28 years with him. #28strong #proudiwastrainedbyhim