Following Mack Daugherty’s retirement last fall, Alexander City native Steve Morgan was named head of security at Russell Lands. At Lake magazine, it is our pleasure to introduce him to the returning summer residents and visitors at Lake Martin.
Congratulations! You come to this position with a long and successful career in law enforcement. Tell us about that.
I worked with the Alexander City Police Department for 28 years; graduated police academy at 21 years old. I worked in the patrol division for three years and was promoted to criminal investigation, where I worked for 16 years. After that, I was promoted to the city’s first code enforcement officer position, and I held that post for eight years before retiring. I was a founding member of the special response group (S.W.A.T.) in 1995. I also was ACPD’s first tactical sniper. I worked with nine police chiefs and five mayors during my time there. The city was always good to me, and I am grateful for the experience.
What was it about your current position that attracted you?
I retired as the code enforcement officer in September, and when this came up, it was a good opportunity to use my skill set and my extensive training on the security side to help people safely enjoy the area. Russell Lands is a good company and a great asset to the area. It’s made up of people who all have the same goal in mind – to make sure people enjoy their time here.
I was fortunate to spend a few months working with Mack before he retired. He showed me the ropes and helped me transition. Russell Lands is great about giving us everything we need to provide top-notch security and make people feel safe while they are here. When you work in municipal government, there can be some lean times on occasion when you have to make do or do without, but security and safety are a priority here. It’s a different atmosphere. If we need it, it’s provided.
How do you do that – make people feel safe at Lake Martin?
The most important thing is that we are highly visible. We have 15 officers in the security department here. Most of us are former law enforcement officers. We are armed and trained in handling any type of security situation.
What kind of networking do you have in place for working with other area law enforcement?
We have a good rapport with other agencies that operate locally. We just hosted an area law enforcement meeting with sheriffs from the surrounding counties, the district attorney, conservation officers, highway officers and marine police. We host this meeting twice each year – once in the spring and again in the fall. We share information – that’s how crimes are solved. The meeting provides better communication between all the departments.
There can be a lot of turnover in law enforcement, so this meeting gives us a chance to meet the new people and share contact information. It keeps us all in conversation.
It’s a big job. What kind of support do you have?
My longtime girlfriend, Ashley Barker, is on Team Steve. She always has my back, and she makes me a better person. I love her to death. We’ve been together for six years now.
Tell us about your family. You are from Alexander City, right?
Morris and Joan Morgan are my parents. My dad is gone now, but my mother still lives here. My dad took good care of us. He kept the family together. I have a twin sister who is seven minutes older than me and doesn’t let me forget it. She lives in Chelsea. I have one brother and an older sister. We’re a close family.
I have two children. My son, Reid, will graduate Auburn University this month, and my daughter, Raylan, also graduated Auburn University and now teaches school in Florida. We’re Auburn folks.
I graduated from Benjamin Russell High School in 1986 and went to Alexander City Junior College. It’s CACC now, but then it was a different name.
So what do you do to relax on your off hours?
I get out on the water a lot. I bass fish mainly – a weekend angler. I am the current president of the Alexander City Bassmasters. Fishing is my biggest hobby. We have 30 teams in our club. It’s just about bragging rights, but it’s fun.
My dad was a founding member of the club in 1971. It’s the oldest club in the state of Alabama. I took over as treasurer when dad died. I sure miss him a lot.
I enjoy getting out on the pontoon boat, too. I love the lake. This is a great place. The lake is a real asset for the area.
What charities are you involved with at the lake?
I also fish most charity bass fishing tournaments on the lake, and along with other anglers, I take special needs kids on the water to fish for the Magic Moments event at Children’s Harbor every year.
I am a Lake Martin Resource Association member, and we’re focused on keeping the area clean and the lake healthy. I do litter cleanups regularly with other Russell Lands employees. There is a lot of pride at Russell Lands about keeping the lake corridors clean.
What reminders would you offer to keep folks safe on the water this summer?
Of course, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency marine patrol is the authority on water safety, but it’s important for people to have their boats ready for the water before they get to the boat ramp. Make sure there are life jackets on board, along with a first aid kit, and don’t overload the boat. Be mindful of the weather at all times.
And in their lake homes?
If you’re going to be away, let your neighbors know. It helps us, too, to know who is OK to be on the property. At Russell Lands, we have several gated communities, but security systems and cameras can make a difference. We got a call a while back from a woman who had someone in her house on the camera. She was not in town, but she was watching him on her cellphone, telling us what room he was in and what he was doing. She watched him the whole time, and we were able to catch him when he went outside. Turns out he was involved in a couple of other break-ins around the lake, so we were able to solve those crimes, too.
If you see a crime or suspect someone is where they shouldn’t be or doing something they shouldn’t be doing, for your own safety, don’t get involved, but call 911 if it’s an emergency or call Russell Security at 256-329-1511 if it’s not an emergency. There is someone in the office 24/7.