Cullman Police Department asst. chief retires; shares memories, experiences

(Photo contributed)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Assistant Police Chief Craig Montgomery spent his first day in retirement enjoying some front porch sitting and late morning coffee after serving 30 years with the Cullman Police Department. 

Chief Kenny Culpepper said he knew Montgomery before their venture into law enforcement began together in 1992. 

“We served together in the military previously—and I remember when he was hired into the police department,” Culpepper said. “His military and life experiences are something worth sharing. He’s been a great officer, leader and friend.”

Montgomery joined the army, got a degree from Auburn University, joined the National Guard and then, the Cullman Police Department in 1992. 

“On October 1, 1992, I started with the CPD—over the years I’ve had numerous assignments with numerous wonderful supervisors, but I’ve only known one chief since I’ve been there and he’s been a good one (referring to Chief Culpepper),” Montgomery said. “We originally met in the 20th Special Forces Group of the Alabama National Guard. He had been there six years when I came along in 1986. I had been in the regular army, got out and joined the National Guard, and enrolled at Auburn University.”

Montgomery said one thing that was vital to him was the support he received for his military side of life from the Cullman Police Department. 

“They’ve always supported me working in the military and allowed me to take many leaves of absence for the military,” Montgomery said. “In 1995, I went to Haiti in 1995 and I was gone from the department for the better part of a year. I went to Afghanistan and I was gone for 20 months, I’m 2002-03, and again I was gone for 22 months from 2009-2011 where I had duties that took me to Iraq. Also, I deployed to Washington, DC in 2016-2017 for a year and worked as a member of a protection detail for the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Lastly, I returned to DC to the same unit as before for 13 months from 2020-2021. I was so thankful for the support of the police department during those times.”

Montgomery said he’s always enjoyed the structure and consistency that the military provided. 

“I like rules, timely things and working according to schedule,” Montgomery said. “I really enjoyed being around the people of the department. My job was closer to being a financial advisor/marriage counselor and sometimes, even a babysitter. The department is very blessed to have wonderful men and women working for the unit. With any working group—you know how it is, everyone has issues—and the ‘Chief, we have a problem, let’s talk about it’ is part of day-to-day operations. The reality is you’re not going to solve everyone’s problems.  It’s nice knowing that we count on each other for more than just the expected law enforcement duties.”

Montgomery shared one of his most memorable experiences that started quite comically. 

“I came back to work from the Afghanistan venture and then Max Bartlett was the captain of investigations,” Montgomery said. “I hadn’t been there in 20 months at that point, and we were in a conference room. In between myself and Max was Craig Green. We were meeting about the unsolved murder case of John Ellard that happened on Lee Circle SW at Covery Chase Apartments. He was murdered in September of 1995 and it was an unsolved cold case.” 

Montgomery shared that several investigators had worked on that case for eight years and they decided to let Craig Green reopen the case and work on it. 

“I felt so sorry for Craig Green when they said Craig would be handling it,” Montgomery said. “I didn’t realize he was talking about me— I had the wrong Craig. For the better part of a year, I worked on that case and re-interviewed people and got several breaks in the case. Now, the man responsible for his death is sitting in Limestone Prison. Ellard had a wonderful family, and they were getting up in age and wondered if that case would ever be solved. I am very proud of that case and the way it turned out.”

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