Outgoing police chief honored

Published 3:56 pm Saturday, December 31, 2016

Retiring Selma Police Chief John Brock knew something was up Friday night, as he was headed to Tally Ho Restaurant with his wife Debra.

But he didn’t know he would be greeted by a crowd of family and retired and active police officers to celebrate the time he spent as a law enforcement officer with the Selma Police Department.

“Basically, it’s a big family reunion,” Brock said after arriving. “My police family, and my personal family all run together because everybody knows everybody. It’s just a great feeling.”

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After the surprise, Brock mingled through the crowd shaking hands and thanking people for being there.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I’ve been up at the police department my whole entire life. I’ve been running around since I was 10, working there since I was 17, so that’s all I’ve ever done.”

Brock’s mother, Frances Jones, said Brock had a great example growing up in his step-father Charlie Jones, who was also a police officer.

“He kind of just followed in his footsteps. That’s all he’s ever wanted to do, and that’s all he’s ever done,” she said. “It’s been a good career for him. He has worked hard for it, and he has devoted a lot of time to the city of Selma.”

After taking his seat, his secretary Kenyetta Banks, who helped plan the party with other staff members, opened the floor for people to tell stories about their days of working with Brock.

Earnest Tate, Selma’s first African American police chief, was up first.

“He was a good dispatcher, and he was one of my best officers,” Tate said. “He worked for me all the time. Nobody worked for me like old Brock man.”

Tate said Brock was the “best I ever had.”

“He would do anything I asked him to do,” Tate said. “When I made commander … every day before he would leave the office, he would come by and ask me if there was anything I wanted him to do before I leave. When I made assistant chief, he did the same thing, and when I made chief, same thing. He wouldn’t leave that office.”

Former Mayor George Evans said there was “no doubt” in his mind when he appointed Brock as Selma’s top cop in September 2015, and he had “no regrets” about his decision.

“I live with that, and I don’t regret it not one bit,” Evans said. “I have nothing but appreciation for the job he has done as chief.”

Johnny King, who is serving as the interim police chief, said the department is “losing a good man.”

“We are the last of the 1980s, of the old-school police, of the police that really cared about people,” King said.

King was Brock’s second in command after he was named captain. King, who started with the department a year after Brock, said he appreciated Brock doing that.

When Brock’s turn came, he recalled memories of training Chief Tate to shoot when the department got new semi-automatic handguns instead of revolvers.

Brock said he has worked for eight chiefs and three mayors during his 30-year tenure, recalling driving Mayor Joe Smitherman around town in the 1990s.

“I never would have imagined,” Brock said about becoming chief. “I remember many days sitting in that radio room and looking down the hall at the chief’s office and seeing the chief sitting at his desk.”

Brock said he enjoyed his career and thanked his family for putting up with long days and long nights over his tenure.

“It’s been a long road of highs and lows over the years, and I enjoyed every minute of it,” Brock said.