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Wiregrass Law Enforcement Officials Attend Montgomery Memorial

By: Alex Zequeira
By: Alex Zequeira

There was standing room only at the Frazer United Memorial Methodist Church in Montgomery, as thousands gathered to honor a slain officer. Among the crowd were several Dothan police officers and a lieutenant from the Houston County Sheriff's Office.
"It's sobering... it reminds you of your own mortality. It certainly won't make you paranoid but it will heighten your awareness of the dangers out there," said Corporal Tim Ellison of the Dothan Police Department.
Ellison was one of six members of the Dothan Police Department, who traveled to Montgomery to join hundreds of law enforcement officials from all across Alabama, to say goodbye to Keith Houts, a Montgomery police officer killed in the line of duty.
Dothan’s Chief of Police, John Powell says, "If one of us falls in the line of duty, we all suffer that."
"It's a brother officer, and when I say that, it's a sense of brotherhood where officers... in your distress, they're going to come because you know that if you were in the same situation, they would come for you. And that's what makes us so close," said Lieutenant Don Valenza, of the Houston County Sheriff’s Department.
Officer Houts was 30 years old, and had only served on the force for a year and a half, when he was fatally shot last Thursday during a routine traffic stop.
The incident serves as a reminder of how dangerous it can be to serve and protect the public.
Lt. Greg Benton, of the Dothan Police Department says, "Any time I go out there, my life could be taken and I would leave my family alone."
Ellison says, "In the line of duty, death is as realistic as anything that will happen to you or to one of your co-workers."
Like any other memorial service honoring a fallen police officer, the service in Montgomery was filled with emotion even for those who never knew Officer Houts.
"The first one is as emotional as the last one you just went to like today," said Valenza.
Dothan's delegation sat with Montgomery police officers as they said their final goodbyes.
All of them wore a black stripe across their badges in honor of their fallen brother.
If there is one lesson that law enforcement officials say they definitely took with them after the service, it is that life is full of surprises and that one must live day today as if it were his or her last.
After the memorial, a motorcade took Houts body to Birmingham for a private family funeral and burial.
Dothan's police chief, John Powell, says he has already offered Montgomery's chief of police whatever assistance he need's, as the department copes with the loss of Officer Houts.
In the meantime, Mario Woodward, the man police say shot and killed Officer Houts, was captured in Atlanta, Georgia and is now in the Montgomery county jail facing a capital murder charge.


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