Troopers Wolfe, Chambers retire
Captain, Lieutenant turn in their badges after years of service
By Ronnie Thomas
About 30 Alabama State Troopers from Decatur Post Troop B said goodbye to their leaders last week.
Capt. Steve Wolfe, 60, of Hartselle, troop commander, turned in his badge after more than 32 years.
Lt. Jim Chambers of Fort Payne, post commander who marked his 44th birthday Wednesday, stepped down after 26 years.
During the three years he served the Decatur post, he resided in Athens.
“It’s time to go and let someone else do it,” Wolfe told post members representing Cullman, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties at their monthly meeting.
“I appreciate your efforts, especially during the special duties you’ve had, working those long 12-hour shifts.”
Madison, Marshall and Jackson counties round out the seven-county troop.
Chambers said he enjoyed his time in Decatur, qualifying the statement by adding, “99 percent of the time. There are always bumps in the road. I appreciate the hard work everyone has done, getting everything smoothed out.”
After the meeting, they spoke about their careers, agreeing that the biggest changes involved technology, which placed computers and cameras in their cars.
They said, however, that radio communication hasn’t improved.
“We’re using the same frequencies, which give us extra traffic to sort out,” Wolfe said. “And when you’re in the Bankhead Forest, you’re often blocked. More towers might help.”
Chambers said that during his years in Northeast Alabama, he often encountered dead spots because of the mountainous terrain.
They gave examples of their most harrowing moments, none of which included high-speed chases or writing traffic tickets.
Wolfe condensed his to coal mine strikes during the late 1970s.
“The scariest time for me was one night at Oakman in Walker County, when we rescued some miners that were continuing to work,” he said.
“Several hundred strikers basically held them hostage. They started shooting and throwing sticks of dynamite.”
Wolfe said strikers took pot shots at a helicopter and rolled a dynamite stick underneath a patrol car.
“Fortunately, it was a dud,” he said, “and during the almost two-hour episode, no one was hurt.”
Chambers, who started as a police dispatcher in Fort Payne at 18, said his most anxious moment came the night he confronted a murder suspect while assisting the DeKalb County sheriff.
“A handful of us were clearing a mobile home in the Flat Rock area of Jackson County,” he said.
“I went to a back room and raised up a bed. The suspect was lying underneath on his back, a .38-caliber revolver in his hand. With the hammer already back on my pistol, I called him by his first name and said, ‘Let go of it.’ Calmness prevailed.”
Wolfe plans to travel in retirement, build a cabin at Smith Lake and return to fishing.
Chambers will head to the golf course more often and perhaps work as a private accident investigator.
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