Zook receives public service award
by Emily McLain
Former Sylacauga Police Chief Louis Zook was honored this week for his 33-year career dedicated to public service.

Zook, law enforcement coordinator for the Attorney General’s Office since 2011, was presented the prestigious Chief Bill Waites Memorial Award by the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police on Monday during its annual summer meeting.

“I was surprised and very honored to even be considered for the award,” Zook said Thursday. “Bill Waites was a friend of mine and a longtime chief as well. It’s really the only award the association presents outside of educational certification awards, so just to be considered was very humbling.”

Given in memory of Waites, a longtime public safety director in Pleasant Grove who died in 2009, the award recognizes “those persons who go, not only above and beyond as far as service, but those who avail themselves to the growth and progress of the association,” said AACOP President and Bessemer Police Chief Nathaniel Rutledge.

“The award is about having the character and zeal for helping especially new chiefs to understand what it means to be chief and what is required of them, and being a model of good character and an all-around wonderful guy,” Rutledge said. “The gentleman it is named for was known for doing the little things no one else thought to do, and Chief Zook is the same type of person. He sees the need and gets it done. A lot of chiefs, especially like Zook who are retired, will leave and attend to the duties of their new job, but he remains a constant coordinator and help for our cause.”

Attorney General Luther Strange joined AACOP in commending Zook’s “excellent service” to the state.

“I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Chief Zook upon this honor by his fellow law enforcement officers,” Strange said in a press release. “I am very proud to have him in the Attorney General’s Office as part of our team to serve the people of Alabama.”

Zook joined the Attorney General’s Office after having served nearly 17 years as police chief of Sylacauga. He began his law enforcement career in 1980 as a deputy in the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office and joined the Sylacauga Police Department as an officer in 1984, becoming a sergeant investigator in 1989, and serving as chief from 1995 to 2011.

Sylacauga Police Chief Chris Carden said his predecessor is worthy of the recognition.

“It’s an incredible honor that very few people have received, and it is well deserved,” he said. “Louis continues to represent Sylacauga in the best way possible.”

In a letter of nomination, Zook is described as “a man of integrity and conviction” and recognized as “a role model in his community and in AACOP. He is a positive and professional example to all who know him, and he is a leader in both his community and in the association.”

He is noted for his service to AACOP as past president, president, vice president, secretary and district representative, and as a member of the Ethics, Legislative and Training Committee. In addition, Zook is a Certified Law Enforcement Executive and a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

He has also served his community as president of the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce; as president, chairperson and board member of the United Way of Sylacauga, as well as through membership with the Arts Council, Rotary Club, American Heart Association, March of Dimes, Little League, the Sylacauga Beautification Council, and the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement Bridges Program.

As law enforcement coordinator for the Attorney General, Zook acts as a liaison to all levels of law enforcement in the state. He organizes annual statewide law enforcement summit training; reviews and answers most constituent complaints lodged against local and county law enforcement agencies; and provides assistance to law enforcement upon request, among other duties. Zook, who still resides in Sylacauga but works in Montgomery, said he is enjoying his somewhat recent career change.

“It’s going very well,” he said. “It’s busy. There’s always something going on around the state, and we’re involved with many different law enforcement agencies and associations. It’s been a very rewarding and exciting change.”

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.

© 2013