Restore Love event held for Hanceville’s explorers on Saturday

Hannah Ward

HANCEVILLE – Cook Ministries on Saturday hosted a special cookout for members of the Hanceville Police Department’s Law Enforcement Explorer post. The event, dubbed “Restore Love” by organizer, Rev. Karen Cook, was a day for the program’s youth to be recognized, mentored ablnd encouraged by area law enforcement leaders.

The featured speaker, and grillmaster!, was Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry, who spoke with the group about serving and leadership. Also there to talk one-on-one with the kids for encouragement and to give advice were Blount County Coroner John Mark Vaughn, Cullman County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Rex Sorrow, Arab City Police Officer Jeff "Preacher” Warren, CCSO Sgt. Joey Cone and his K9 partner AJ and Hanceville City Police Chief Bob Long.

Law Enforcement Exploring, according to, is a hands-on program open to young men and women interested in a career in law enforcement or a related field in the criminal justice system.

The program offers young adults a personal awareness of the criminal justice system through training, practical experiences, competition and other activities. Additionally, the program promotes personal growth through character development, respect for the rule of law, physical fitness, good citizenship and patriotism.

The Explorer program brings teens considering a career in law enforcement in contact with different types of law enforcement professionals. If members choose to pursue a career in law enforcement they already have the training and knowledge necessary to join an academy.

Vaughn, who is also the chairman of the Alabama Coroners’ Training Commission, shared some information about his particular career field. “The role, especially in Alabama, the role of coroner is often misunderstood. Many associate coroners with the funeral industry, and that is not the case. The job is actually forensically-oriented; our basic issues are first determined by identity. Second, what was the mechanism that caused his (or her) death? We explore their background medically to determine what is going on. After having all that information, we are the ones that make the final legal decision as to what category they will fall into as far as their death. If we rule it to be homicidal act, then we hand the case over to law enforcement. We are not concerned at all in the ‘who done it?’ Unless the individual himself did it, as in a suicide. We are simply limited in our scope to the person and what was the mechanism that caused this person to die. "

When asked what he hoped to accomplish by sharing his field with the youth in the Explorer program, Vaughn responded, “Just to open them up to the area; most of them are accustomed to law enforcement as far as patrol, administrative and investigative functions, that there is another investigative function out there in the form of the medical, legal death investigator."

Vaughn continued, “The goal of any coroner should be to study, prepare and try to become registered / certified by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators to ensure our policies, procedures and proficiency are up to established national standards.”

One of the four 18-year-old Explorers, Tyler Bright, said, “It’s a great way to figure out if you want to be a police officer or not.”

Another youth, Robert, said, “It’s a great honor to be a part of this program. It teaches you a lot about law enforcement. It actually shows if you have the discipline to do it or not. We get the chance (to do something) that most people never get the chance to do; we get to come out here and train with local law enforcement.”

All of the Explorers that we spoke to today attended Hanceville High school. Long says he is primarily looking to recruit Hanceville High School seniors. For more information, contact Long at

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