Bolstering the ranks

Published 12:39 am Friday, August 14, 2009

The police department added two new members in a swearing-in ceremony Thursday.

Four months of training and evaluations came to an end for Desmond Marcellous Williams, a native of Chicago, and James Britton Langston of Pletcher after their wives pinned their new badges to their uniforms.

The officers were hired under the COPS Hiring Recovery Program, which allocated $15,952,611 for three years to 44 jurisdictions in Alabama to hire 114 officers.

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Both officers admitted they are ready to move on to the next step in the process — a stint in the police academy at Craig Field.

“I’m truly excited,” said Langston. “I’m real excited about this career. I’ve been wanting to get in this career for awhile.”

Langston, who graduated from Maplesville High School, is originally from Selma, but his family moved to Pletcher when he was 10.

Williams graduated from Southshore High School in Chicago and earned his bachelor’s degree at Washington College, also in the Windy City. His wife, Michelle, is from Alabama. When the department advertised its vacancies, Williams submitted his application.

“I’ve been attracted to this since I was a kid,” he said.

For both officers, the ceremony was an important step in the pursuit of a career. For other veteran officers, it was an important part of increasing the department’s capabilities.

Selma Police Chief William T. Riley III said the force is now at 53 total, with a goal to increase to more than 60.

“We are slowly growing in numbers,” he said. “It’s real good to get some new officers. My goal is to build toward the future. We need good, solid officers coming in.”

Lt. David Evans and Sgt. Tommy Weber said the addition would give the department more flexibility.

“It opens different avenues for special assignments, special operations and things like that,” said Weber.

Evans added, “The key is to get enough people to be proactive. That’s when you can make a dent in your crime rate. The more people we get, the more we can do. The more we can do, the more crime we can prevent.”