Full-time officers welcome additions to town’s police force

Published 5:34 pm Monday, June 10, 2013

Keith Avery, left, and Bridgette Ellis are the two newest members of the Maplesville Police Department.

Keith Avery, left, and Bridgette Ellis are the two newest members of the Maplesville Police Department.

Nearly a month ago, the Maplesville Police Department welcomed two new full-time officers to the force, signifying a positive turning point in the department’s staff structure.

Officers Bridgette Ellis and Keith Avery started with the department May 13 after the town council approved hiring them in a meeting that evening.

They brought the department up to five full-time officers, including Chief Todd Ingram, Assistant Chief Scott Conner and Officer Josh Hammond.

In addition to increasing officer safety during vehicle searches and decreasing overtime pay, having five officers will allow Hammond to work “swing” shifts, or shifts that will overlap with an on-duty officer’s 12-hour shift during the busiest hours of the day or night.

“That will allow us to have two officers covering the area at one time,” Hammond said. “It helps us with backup situations. It also helps the town out if we have to leave for any reason. Now, there will be a constant presence.”

Ellis, a Maplesville native, returned to her hometown after serving full-time as deputy sheriff in patrol with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office for two years.

Her first job in law enforcement came in 1996 with the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department.

While working in Elmore County’s fire and rescue unit, Ellis’ chief introduced her to members of the sheriff’s department at a time when they had a staff opening, and soon after, she was hired.

Ellis said law enforcement wasn’t even on her radar as a possible career when she was growing up.

“I started off in the medical profession and wanted to go into nursing or paramedics,” Ellis said. “I just kind of bumped into law enforcement. Doing it did interest me once I was approached with it, and everything just fell into place.”

Ellis completed her police academy training over a two-year period with Jefferson County Reserve Police Academy.

After the academy, she worked with the city of Montevallo for six years.

Ellis has served a total of 15 years in law enforcement in Alabama.

She has two children, Justin Adams, 17, and Derrek Adams, 14.

“It’s good to be back because I know the people and the town, and I’ve grown up with them,” Ellis said. “It’s nice to be home. I’m grateful to the Maplesville City Council and Maplesville Police Department for allowing me the opportunity to come home and serve the people of the community.”

Avery, a Jemison resident, had worked as a part-time officer with the Maplesville Police Department for three months prior to accepting a full-time position in May.

He started his law enforcement career as a reserve officer for the Jemison Police Department in 2009, started his police academy training in 2011 and graduated in 2012.

Before Maplesville hired him full-time, Avery worked for Wade Sand and Gravel in Jemison for 22 years.

“I’ve actually always wanted to do it, but I just didn’t know how to get started with it until I talked to a friend who was a reserve officer in Jemison,” Avery said. “From what little bit of time I’ve been here, these people are nice people. I enjoy working here because it’s a small town. You can mingle with the people and get to know them.”

Avery expressed gratitude to the Maplesville council and police department for offering him a full-time position.

He has two children, Chase, 18, and Cameron, 7.

Ingram recommended Avery and Ellis for the positions after both had served as part-time officers for several months.

Previously, the council had approved hiring Avery and Ellis as part-time officers in March following the resignation of full-time officer Casey O’Farril, who transferred to the Helena Police Department.

O’Farril’s departure brought the department down to only three full-time officers.

At April’s council meeting, Ingram recommended Avery and Ellis be hired as full-time officers.

The council met in executive session to discuss Avery and Ellis as candidates for the department’s fourth and fifth full-time officer positions but decided not to fill the previously held positions until council members had more time to review the police department’s budget.

Instead, the council voted to retain both as part-time officers for another month.

Currently, the department’s part-time officers are Brian Brandenburg, Shane Mayfield, Corry McCartney and Britton Langston.

Reserve officers include Kenny Barrett, Patrick Worley and Jeremy Marlowe.