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HPD recognizes officer of year

The Hartselle Police Department recognized Lt. Alan McDearmond as the Officer of the Year during a department meeting Feb. 28.

Hartselle Police Chief Justin Barley said McDearmond was selected by his peers after having been nominated as the officer of the quarter at the beginning of 2019.

“We launched a new program last year, and you will see us do it quarterly, where we have the officer of the quarter,” Barley said. “There are just a lot of good things going on here, so it’s really nice to come up with a way to recognize hard work on a more regular basis. So we have the quarterly program, and we take nominations, and then the department votes, and we will put out what they are nominated for specifically, and the winner stands.”

Barley said McDearmond was originally selected from his peers during the first quarter for his willingness to take on extra work to get the job done. In addition to the responsibilities he already held, McDearmond volunteered to oversee the field training officer program for new hires at the department, which Barley described as “very important to us, especially with all the hiring that we have to do.”

Barley said the field training program allows new hires to learn hands-on training. Although the program has always existed, he said it lacked a dedicated supervisor with a vision for it. The program was especially important last year when the department not only filled vacancies but hired for six brand new positions.

“When we bring someone in, whether they are brand new or experienced in another agency, they go through a training protocol so we can get them properly trained and ready to do the job here,” he explained. “We have had an FTO program for many years, but the one thing that it was lacking was someone that was the official supervisor of that unit and … Although that was not technically in (McDearmond’s) area, seeing as he is overseeing investigations, he knew it needed to be done and wanted to take over that.

“He put a lot of hard work and ownership in it and really got that program to be the most beneficial,” Barley said.

McDearmond has also played a big role in the hiring process for the department. Barley said he has been instrumental in interviewing and recruiting new candidates, while maintaining his regular duties.

“That’s really how he has been his entire career with Hartselle. He has always been willing to take on more, do more, and he really cares about the Hartselle Police Department and the community,” Barley said. “He gives everything he has to it.”

Barley said McDearmond has been at the Hartselle Police Department since 1999. He began as a jailer and quickly gained the attention of his peers and was sent to the academy later that year. In 2004 he became part of the criminal investigations unit and was recently promoted to a lieutenant.

Barley said McDearmond’s drive and willingness to do what needs to be done is what earned him recognition first as the officer of the quarter and now as the officer of the year.

“He also supervised the school resource officers and school protection officers. He has as much responsibility as just about anyone here,” Barley said. “We have recently promoted two sergeants, so that will lighten his load, but up until then he was doing a lot of work.

“I think that’s the main thing that people recognized – how much of the load he was willing to carry and just how he did it at a very high level,” Barley said.

McDearmond was also recently selected to complete the FBI National Academy in 2021.

“It’s a very big honor for him. We are very excited for him. It’s an incredible opportunity, and he is very deserving of that as well,” Barley said.

Barley said the department plans to continue the officer of the quarter and officer of the year program throughout 2020, and he looks forward to recognizing the efforts of everyone in the department.

“McDearmond was very, very deserving. Everyone that was nominated was very deserving,” Barley said. “I wish we could do more, but it is exciting to have that back, and we are looking forward to continuing it.”