Capt. Lonnie Benson recently retired from the Alexander City Police Department after a career that began in 1989. | Austin Nelson

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Benson retires from ACPD after 22 years

Published 11:58am Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It was 1989 – Lonnie Benson was cutting his grass in his front yard when Deputy Chief Willie Robinson and his partner Steve Thomas drove up.

Robinson told Benson that some jobs had become available at the precinct.

Benson was 40 at the time, but he decided to apply anyways.

“(Benson) told me, ‘I don’t know if (ACPD) will hire me or not, because of my age,’” Robinson said. “I told him that he was in better shape than I was.”

Benson soon found himself working for ACPD under Chief Lynn Royall. Looking back after a 22 year and nine month career, Benson said he loved every minute of it.

“I liked coming to work,” Benson said. “I remember Chief Royall sitting me down when I first got hired and he told me, ‘You won’t get rich here. It will be a job where you can provide for your family, and you will meet a lot of different people’ – all of it was true.”

Benson said that learning how to deal with and read people was a big part of being a police officer.

“When you go to a scene, (the victims’) problems are of paramount importance to them,” Benson said. “You have to be able to decipher exactly what is going on, and sometimes you never get all the story.  You have to read body language and try to find out what caused the circumstances to happen.”

Ask anyone who worked with Benson over the years and they will paint a picture of a hardworking man with a sense of right and wrong.

“Benson was a good officer,” said Mayor Charles Shaw. “He went above and beyond the call of duty. He was an outstanding citizen, but he was also a great role model for the community.”

Robinson said Benson was the sort of officer who never let you down.

“He was a professional – he did what he was supposed to do and didn’t complain,” Robinson said. “I have had to call on him a lot over the years, and he always did an excellent job.”

Chief Charles Rafford has worked with Benson for the past 5 years and said the department is going to miss him.

“He has been a highly professional, highly ethical and very efficient and competent captain,” Rafford said. “I am happy he is able to retire, but I feel like as a department we will feel the loss of his leadership, example and work ethic.”

Rafford added that Benson received two meritorious service medals during his career, and it is a rare feat for an officer to be presented two such awards.

“We will promote a new captain – I can put someone in his slot, but I can’t replace him,” Rafford said. “It will take a long time for a captain to grow into the role Lonnie Benson played in this department.

“He will be sorely missed.”