Albertville Police Chief Jamie Smith retired Dec. 29 with a large party held at the Sand Mountain Park and Amphitheater.
Hundreds of current and former law enforcement officers, family members and friends gathered to give their congratulations.
“I can’t say enough good things about Chief Smith,” said Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea.
“Everyone here at the city appreciates you more than you will know. Our residents have more appreciation for the work you do now more than ever. We are blessed to live in a community where that is true and people have respect for law enforcement.”
Honea presented Smith with a plaque of congratulations on his 29-year career with Albertville Police.
Smith began his career as a jailer right after he graduated from Jacksonville State University with a degree in criminal justice.
He worked his way up through the ranks to a patrolman, assistant chief and finally chief more than four years ago.
“As I look around this room, I think everyone in here could tell a story about me,” Smith joked.
“I look out there and see my family. I know there were a lot of sleepless nights. It’s the not knowing that has been the hardest part for them. But the good Lord saw me through it all. Now is just a good time for me to leave while I feel on top of the world.”
Replacing Smith is current Assistant Chief J.T. “Butch” Cartee. He was sworn in as chief Monday, Jan. 3, at an Albertville City Council meeting.
“I have no qualms that Butch will be able to take this department to the next level,” Smith said. “The hardest part to me about leaving will be not coming into work every day to see everyone and then trying to figure out where to go to have lunch at 12:15 p.m.”
Smith said his career has been full of “peaks and valleys,” and he’s been on both ends of the spectrum.
“It’s been a unique experience,” Smith said. “I love what I did. It never felt like a job.”
The City of Albertville has a new police chief after J.T. “Butch” Cartee was formally sworn into office Monday night during a city council meeting.
Retired Circuit Judge Tim Jolley performed the ceremony as Cartee took his oath of office with his hand on a Bible held by his wife.
“I had the opportunity to serve with him (Cartee) in various capacities for a long time,” Jolley said before the swearing-in. “I can tell you this, you are very blessed to have a man of faith, to have a man of methodology. I’ve heard people say, ‘Butch, you’re slow.’ No, Butch wasn’t slow. Butch was thorough.”
Cartee has been with the APD for nearly 34 years, working his way up from patrolman to detective to assistant chief. Without his thoroughness and methodology, the judge said, many cases might not ever have been solved.
Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea said he’s seen a change in Cartee’s demeanor ever since he was to become chief.
“For somebody that has served 30-someting years in law enforcement in this day and time with what you guys have to put up with and tolerate, it’s amazing and exciting to see a guy like Botch want to do this job,” the mayor said. “He reminds me of a 12-year-old kid right now. He’s just got all these ideas and excitement.”
Also recognized during the council meeting was Albertville Airport director Jerry Cofield, who plans to retire after 15 years of service.
“As exciting as it is to see J.T. come in as chief, we’re kind of right the opposite with Mr. Cofield here,” Honea said. “We appreciate his (Cofield’s) service more than he knows, and I know everybody that has ever worked with Jerry on any project at all knows the dedication that he gives and has always given the city.”
Though Cofield has served officially for 15 years, Honea said he’s been involved with helping the airport for nearly 35 years and will continue to do so for at least the next three months.