Madison shows support, mourns with Huntsville over loss of HPD officer
MADISON – America mourned another fallen police officer over the weekend. This time it was close to home, in Huntsville.
HPD officer Billy Fred Clardy III, a husband and father of five, was shot and killed in the line of duty. He was only 48-years-old.
A local hero, but also a national hero as a decorated veteran of the U.S. Army, Clardy was a member of the Madison-Morgan County HIDTA Drug Task Force, known as the STAC team. He was shot Friday afternoon during a drug task force operation near the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Levert Street in Huntsville.
Arrested for his murder, LaJeromeny Brown of Tennessee, is being held in the Madison County jail on a capital murder charge.
“Our City is broken hearted,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said, who considered Clardy a personal friend. “All of Huntsville mourns along with the Huntsville Police Department and the family and friends of our fallen officer. We owe a continual and deep debt of gratitude to the men and women in law enforcement who protect our community every day. Let it never be taken for granted the sacrifice that officers make to keep us safe.”
In Madison, condolences and support quickly went out to the Huntsville community and police department.
“The City of Madison mourns the death of HPD Officer Billy Clardy. His dedication to making Huntsville and the entire community better was infectious and he will be greatly missed,” Madison Mayor Paul Finley said Monday.
Madison Police Chief David Jernigan said the thoughts and prayers of the Madison Police are with the Huntsville Police Department.
It was a rough weekend for law enforcement throughout the nation. Three law enforcement officers died in the line of duty, bringing the total number to 115 for the year. An officer in Houston, TX and one in Fayetteville, AK also lost their lives.
“When a police officer is killed in the line of duty we all are affected. Both the community and the law enforcement profession,” Chief Jernigan said. “In law enforcement it is akin to losing a member of your own family. It hurts.”
“It is a reality check of what could happen to you, your partner or agency in this uncertain world we live in. But what keeps us going to continue to protect and serve is the vision of a world without peace officers,” Jernigan added. “We need our law enforcement officers and they need the community and their respect and support if we are going to confront the challenges in an ever changing, unpredictable and at times dangerous world.”
New officers will be sworn in during the Madison City Council meeting Monday night. In their oath, they, like Clardy once did, promise to serve and protect.
“Protect and serve are words that at times are taken for granted,” Jernigan said. “Everywhere in the United States when a citizen calls 911 there will be a response from law enforcement. No matter what the nature of the call or whether it is an emergency or not—someone from a law enforcement agency will answer the call.
“Law Enforcement Officers often see citizens on their worst day when police intervention is necessary,” Jernigan continued. “There is far too often the unknown when the police answer a call, especially on a traffic stop or serving a search warrant. But this is the oath all officers take on their first day on the job, “that they will faithfully and honestly discharge the duties of the office and position” while supporting the Constitution of the United States and the state of Alabama and all laws and ordinances within.”
The Clardy’s have long known the weight of that oath. Clardy’s father was Billy Clardy Jr. He was a Huntsville police officer who was killed in an on-duty crash 41 years ago, in a crash that happened May 3, 1978 on U.S. 72 at the intersection of Old Gurley Road when his patrol vehicle left the road and hit a rock wall.
“All of Alabama is heartbroken again as another Alabama peace officer is gunned down in the line of duty. Those of us who knew him admired his dedication and professionalism,” said U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town. “We must now direct our prayers to his grieving family and pull together in full support of the Huntsville Police Department and law enforcement everywhere who lost another brother of the badge.”