Special to the News
Published: April 10, 2008
ALEXANDER CITY — Officer Mark Fuller of the Alabama Marine Police has been selected by the Southern States Boating Law Administrators Association as their Officer of the Year for 2007.
This is the fourth award of the year for Fuller, who is set to attend the annual meeting of the National Water Safety Congress in San Diego next week to receive a Merit Award for his involvement in a video project aimed at promoting the dangers of underage drinking.
“Officer Fuller is extremely concerned about this problem on Lake Martin,” said Fuller’s supervisor, Capt. Matt Brooks. “Instead of taking a lock ’em up and throw away the key approach, Mark has been very instrumental in educating some of these young folks about what can happen when you mix alcohol and boating.”
Fuller teamed up with a video production class at Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City to produce a DVD titled “S.O.S.: Sink or Swim.” The project utilized student actors and student production personnel and takes a gritty look at what happens to a group of young people who are involved in a boating accident after spending a day on the lake consuming alcoholic beverages.
Fuller was selected as Officer of the Year for both District 3 and the entire Alabama Marine Police Division. He is a former officer with the Alexander City police department and has been with the Marine Police for six years. He is assigned to Lake Martin. Officer Johnny Smith, also a former Alexander City police officer, received the District 3 Top Gun award for his enforcement efforts against Boating Under the Influence and for his drug interdiction work. “Making an arrest for B.U.I. is one of the toughest things that our officers have to do,” Brooks said. “The officer is usually working alone and without backup or other assistance normally provided to regular law enforcement officers. It’s dangerous; it’s difficult, and it’s a testament to the dedication of our officers that they continue to actively patrol for intoxicated boat operators.”
Smith has been with the Marine Police for two years and patrols Lake Martin.
Officer Tommy Haynes was given the District 3 “Silver Pen Award” for consistently demonstrating excellence in the wide variety of administrative duties that marine police officers are required to perform. “This is kind of a light-hearted award but at the same time it’s important to recognize an officer who cares enough to do the very best he can,” Brooks said. Haynes has been with the Marine Police Division for eight years and patrols Lake Eufaula.
Lt. Mitford Fontaine received a Commissioner’s Commendation for his work last June on Lake Martin when a routine stop of a personal watercraft for reckless operation turned into something much larger. “The operator failed to stop for Lt. Fontaine and after a short pursuit he jumped off of the personal watercraft and fled on foot.” As it turned out the personal watercraft was stolen and the ensuing investigation led to the recovery of an additional stolen boat and the solving of two residential burglaries on Lake Martin. “Lt. Fontaine’s diligence led to the arrest of 3 individuals responsible for the thefts,” said Captain Brooks. “It really proves true the old saying that there is no such thing as a routine stop, even on the water.”
Lt. Fontaine has been with the Department of Conservation since 1990. He is a former Montgomery police officer.