Three Baldwin Law Enforcement Officers avert tragedy for the public this week. One made the ultimate sacrifice serving others. All are heroes.


If we needed reminding of the risk and sacrifice Baldwin-based law enforcement officers face every day to keep us all safe, this week was a stark and tragic reminder.

Two Baldwin sheriff deputies patrolling the Fort Morgan beach responded to a swimmer-in-distress call and waded into Sunday’s heavy surf to rescue swimmers being pulled away from shore. The swimmers were rescued, but Deputy William Smith died as a result of his selfless actions. Deputy Sydney Wentworth required hospitalization before being released.

On the next day in Daphne, police officers responded to reports of a man with a gun at Alligator Boardwalk near the intersection of Highway 98 and I-10. Upon arrival, one officer was fired upon allegedly by suspect Johnny Simmons as heavy traffic came to a standstill in the immediate area. The officer responded by firing upon the suspect, hitting him once in the abdomen and bringing the incident to a safe close for officers and the nearby public.

On Sunday, Baldwin-based officers risked their lives in heavy surf. On Monday, Daphne officers risked their safety in the face of an armed suspect who fired on them. One officer died. All are heroes.

The risk, sacrifice and commitment to protect the public was not confined to these three officers. First responding firefighters from the Fort Morgan volunteers and the Gulf Shores Fire Department joined in the water rescue. Swarms of police from Daphne and Spanish Fort were on scene to contain the gun-waving suspect and protect the public at risk to themselves.

We agree with Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s statement, issued after learning about Deputy Smith’s death, stating ”Deputy Smith’s brave and swift response to save the life of another should cause us all to pause and reflect upon the sacrifices of all law enforcement.”

And we agree with Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Hal Taylor whose statement about Deputy Smith’s death in the line of duty reads in part, ”His service, sacrifice and brave actions will never be forgotten as a true hero to his local community and the entire state of Alabama.”

Deputy Smith, and all Baldwin law enforcement officers, are indeed true heroes as this week starkly reminds us.


This editorial represents the collective opinion of the Gulf Coast Media Editorial Board, composed of editors and staff of the Gulf Coast Media family of newspapers. If you have questions or comments, or would like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email our managing editor at

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