By Heather Jones Skaggs
Photos by Keith McCoy & contributed
Clint Blackmon remembers the day he took the police officer’s examination many years ago. He was sitting in a room with 500 other applicants at the Wynfrey Hotel. It took multiple days because there were so many people. The veteran officer would spend the next 27 years doing what he loves – serving his community.
“There were officers that patrolled my Birmingham neighborhood when I was a kid that kept the streets safe for me to play. That sense of safety allowed me to walk to the library, school, ballparks or a friend’s house without the fear that some kids have today in society. I wanted to pay it forward,” Clint says.
Clint began his career as a dispatcher in the early ‘90s with the Jacksonville State University Police Department. Then in 2000, he was ready to move to a more extensive department and found his home with the Hoover Police Department (HPD). “My interest in law enforcement has remained the same throughout my career: to serve. Growing up in a single-parent home, I felt the need to serve and help.”
In his 27 years in law enforcement, 22 of those years were with the HPD. For Clint, looking back on his growing career also reminds him of where the city he calls home was during its growth.
John Hawkins Pkwy/Hwy 150 was a two-lane road with not as much traffic when Clint joined the HPD. Wow, the traffic now! “We only had two Chick-Fil-A restaurants in Hoover, and one was inside the Galleria. You could drive from Hwy 31 to South Shades Crest Road without stopping at a traffic light. The city has grown so much during my years here.”
Like most officers, Clint has stories. Some sad, some hilarious. He says he will keep them to himself to protect the innocent, but some of his most memorable times at Hoover, aside from casework, would be working holiday traffic, special events (baseball, golf tournaments, protective details), and even protests.
The city has grown, and its police department, which started with only two officers in the 1960s, has also grown. “When I was hired in 2000, I was one of five or six African American officers out of 120 officers (today, the department has around 200 officers). I was never treated any differently than anyone else. The Hoover Police and Hoover Fire Departments are some of the most professional public servants. I won’t call names, but people in my chain of command were directly responsible for my professional development. They all practiced servant leadership and were willing to do the right thing regardless of public opinion. They also believed in getting ready and preparing you for the worst, even if it never occurs. I find it refreshing when an agency and its leaders take the time to invest in its most valuable asset, its personnel.”
Another key event in Clint Blackmon’s career came while working church traffic. At times, area churches hire onsite officers to help with traffic and provide security on Sunday mornings. “I started directing traffic on Sundays with some friends. After 9/11, I became a regular. The humble officer became popular with teens and kids, and they would often sit with him and his family during worship service times. His connection to the youth led to Clint being assigned to the youth building and as a chaperone on several trips with the choir during the summer.” I am not saying I am the best role model, but before I knew it, I had become a mentor to some kids involved. One of them just got promoted at the Hoover Police Department. He did it all on his own. No help from me. It’s just that the church became home, and I have made friends there that I will have for a lifetime.”
In June 2022, Blackmon again felt it was time to shift his path in another direction of service. This time retiring from the HPD, which he loved, and stepping on board as an Intelligence Analyst with the Department of Justice. His skills and training over the years with the Investigations Bureau – working juvenile crimes, burglaries, auto theft, robberies and homicides and his time with Hoover SRT (Tactical Unit) and Task Force Officer- made him a perfect fit for the new opportunity that offered a more stable schedule. “I love law enforcement and serving my communities. However, I have children that are very involved in activities at this age. I decided it was time to focus more on my family life and being ‘dad’ rather than being called away from family gatherings or missing special holidays. My new job allows me to still serve in a different way.”