By Herman L. Hinton
From 1983 – 2013, I worked for the Birmingham, Alabama Police Department. I started out as a lowly patrol officer and worked my way up the ladder retiring as Deputy Chief. Each day I went to work, I never knew which way the wind was going to blow and whether or not truth would be found. You see this job was all about finding truth even though the mission was not always accomplished.
“Each day I went to work, I never knew which way the wind was going to blow and whether or not truth would be found.”
I knew my freshman year in high school that I was called to be an officer. I always found myself rooting for the underdog. I did however take a circuitous route to becoming an officer. After three years in the Navy, I found a job working at a coke plant and enrolled in a junior college majoring in fire science before eventually getting laid off, prompting me to take the civil service test for police officer. Even a future deputy chief of police can have trouble finding truth.
About a year later I was hired by the city as a patrol officer, and 8 years later I made detective, searching for truth. My passion for crime victims grew as I became a supervisor and eventually the commander of the homicide unit, investigating the most egregious crime known to man: homicide. With less than 15 investigators assigned to the unit, we investigated nearly a hundred homicides a year. I can tell you first hand that these fine men and women were uniquely qualified to rid our communities of violent offenders in their quest to find truth.
“Each morning during roll call I would ensure that we found something humorous to have a good laugh about, just to maintain our sanity.”
We never gave up on finding truth even though sometimes it would take longer than we’d like. Each morning during roll call I would ensure that we found something humorous to have a good laugh about, just to maintain our sanity.
My greatest accomplishment was establishing the “Cold Case Unit” to assure the victims that we are determined to find truth even if the lead detective got promoted, transferred, or even retired. Our motto was a quote by the great French Philosopher Voltaire, “To the living we owe respect; to the dead we owe the truth.”
What’s your definition of truth?
Herman L. Hinton is a retired deputy chief of investigations with 30 years of service who oversaw 130 detectives, supervisors and commanders in the Birmingham Police Department. He is the author of “Hidden Relationships of the Homicide Detective” and “Life is So Simple When We Choose to Live God’s Way.”