Marshall McCoy has been with the LaGrange Police Department for 17 years. Over the course of that time, he has been involved with this community in a growing capacity for quite sometime. Law Enforcement today faces heavy attack from a biased media and an ever-growing gang mentality. Fortunately for us here in the community, we have an officer like Marshall and many others that are truly dedicated to being involved in the community and showing the positive side of law enforcement.
“In the era that I grew up in, a lot of the shows you saw on television were law enforcement type based shows or they were private investigator type shows, but it was always a person who was going out, good vs. evil. The general theme back then was the good vs. evil type stuff and those were always my favorite shows with the good guys always winning. It’s not like a lot of what you see on television today but at least back then it was always a good vs. evil type thing. So that’s always what, you know I loved those type shows and wanted to do something like that.
Originally coming out of high school I wanted to be an engineer. I had a friend I went to high school with and his desire was to be to be an engineer [as well]. We both sort of went the furthest you could from engineering. I started college after high school and had some people that are well known in this community that worked for the Sheriff’s office at that time, Jimmy Jones was one of them and Mark Mitchell, and just in talking with those guys, [I] decided that’s really what I want to do. I ended up paying my own way through, with the help of my parents, through the police academy, and was hired by the Sheriff’s Office.”
Marshall started with the Sheriff’s Office in 1995 where he worked for five years. In 2000, he made the transition to the LaGrange Police Department where he has been for about 17 years. He is now a sergeant with the department who is over the community outreach program. “As far as what I do now, I do community outreach. If you look around at the trends in the Country, [the public opinion of] law enforcement goes up and down. It always has. One of the things that we decided as an agency that it’s better to tell your story instead of letting other people tell a story. We are a part of the community. We are heavily involved in the community and [we want] the community to see us. We try to partner with the community as much as we can and we look for ways for the community to partner with us.
In that, we have the neighborhood watch program. The majority of crime is not solved by officers riding around on the street. The majority of crime is solved by the citizen’s who live in their neighborhood, they understand what’s normal, they understand who should be there and who shouldn’t be there, and when they see suspicious activity and contact us, then we are able to go follow up on it. Here lately, people are starting to get engaged more. Neighborhoods are starting to come together and talk again.
We [also] coordinated the National Night Out which was a huge success and we are looking forward to doing that again this fall. We also are involved with the mental health court and the DUI court, which are our two biggest courts that we have. The chaplains, they work here with us in the community outreach unit and we have roughly 10 of [them]. They provide counseling not only for the public but also members of the department. One of the new ventures we just started up is our explorer’s program. We are looking to get the youth involved. This is for kids ages 14 to 20 and it gives them a chance to see what law enforcement is. It’s also a great recruitment tool for us. We recruit, a big emphasis is local. We do want to get local folks but when we don’t find local people, we are hitting the military bases, the colleges, and any other opportunities we get like the job fairs, stuff like that.
Many of us here have been in law enforcement for a long time so we are also instructors. We do firearms, driving, we do the CRAZE trainings, all that falls under here [community outreach]. Really, [we cover] any other special event you can think of. It’s not just on duty time. They like for us to be involved in this community off duty. So there again we do a lot off duty events, whether it is coaching, or just being involved in some of the day to day activities that are going on.”
After 17 years with the police department, Marshall still loves his job and the ability he has been given to try several different positions within the department. “One of the things that are expected of us, and I hope that we have the personal drive to do is continued advancement. I’ll be honest with you, I love this job. To me, there’s nothing better than, your responsibilities [being] to get out and work with people, to work with the people you live with, you shop with, you go to church with. It’s a huge plus. On the flip side of that, I am currently in Command College, which is a part of Columbus State University and it’s a Master’s Program, it is sponsored by the Police Department. We will hire people in this agency with high school education but we prefer they have [some college experience]. To progress, there is an educational component. I did get my degree from Columbus State University which made me eligible to test for Lieutenant for the last few years, but we haven’t had any promotions at that level yet.
In this line of work, I have been fortunate to move around. It makes for a good employee, its healthy, especially if you want to stay working for the same agency for 30 years. Nobody wants to do the same thing for 30 years. I’ve worked in patrol, I’ve worked day shift, I’ve worked night shift, I’m on the bike team now but I’ve been on the bike team almost since I started. I have worked as a detective, I have supervised detectives, and I’ve worked in the traffic unit in accident reconstruction and as a traffic officer working the major wrecks. I have had the opportunity every three or four years to move around. One of the newest things that we’ve got going that I’m interested in is what’s going to be our aviation program with the unmanned aerial device and what that’s going to bring to the table. The Federal Aviation Administration just released the new rules this past fall. So sometimes even in your current position you can find new things to be involved with. I’m always looking for new challenges.”
On the home front, Marshall has a loyal and caring family. “Well most people know my wife. I’m married to Ashley McCoy. She’s always been very supportive of what I do for a living, very understanding, whether it’s working holidays or cut into vacations or at times I’ve been on call and been at an event and just had to leave. I think that’s very important that you find somebody that’s supportive. I think there’s a concept that law enforcement has a high divorce rate but I think if you look around you see the high divorce rate isn’t about everything you do but certainly in this line of work, for our personal sanity it takes a great spouse or significant other to really have a peaceful and long career. That’s what I have with her.
I have great kids, I have a total of five and of course with that, it’s a matter of trying to find that right balance to where you spend time with them and of course I’ve been fortunate enough to have the job here in the department’s stance on community involvement that currently I coach a tee ball team and a softball team. This past fall, I coached two soccer teams. I do call high school football and there is some minor college work that I get to do. Another little known fact is that I do work in a part time capacity as a fireman on a 24 hour shift in Heard County.
“I guess I just really love the public service side of things. We go to church in Lanett at the Lanett Church of Christ and we are involved with the youth there. It’s just a lot of fun. I just can’t stress enough the being involved with the public and getting to work to make things happen.”
Marshall is another in a line of examples of how law enforcement officers are making things different here in LaGrange and Troup County. Between various events, all of our local agencies are working together to make this community the best place that it can be. Let us all hope that these trends continue and that we always have good, honest men in law enforcement to help us continue to grow.
Jeremy Andrews Staff Writer