Capt. David Robinson started his career in law enforcement as a correctional specialist in the Birmingham City Jail before joining the Birmingham Police Department 22 years ago.
Robinson lists compassion and dedication as the qualities that make a good homicide detective. "There is always sadness at death," he says. "After a time, the emotions are not as high."
Robinson comes from a large family--he has 4 sisters and 2 brothers. Robinson is married and has four children--two boys and two girls. Outside of the office he likes to spend time with his family, help around the house and work for his church.
"I knew so many people that went the other way," says 18-year Birmingham Police veteran Sgt. Scott Praytor, "that I wanted to be a good guy."
"It can wear on you," says Praytor of the job. "But I have outlets so I can let it go. I have a strong faith that helps me deal with it."
Despite technological advances that assist detectives in solving crimes, Praytor says that even technology cannot replace hard work. "It's not science that solves the cases," he says. "It's talking to people and a lot of leg work."
Praytor is married and has 4 daughters, 3 stepdaughters and a son. He likes to hunt and fish and occasionally drive racecars.
Sgt. Sam Noblitt joined the force to make a difference, and he's been making a difference for the past 15 years on the Birmingham PD.
Noblitt says the best part of the job is bringing the guilty to justice. And while he loves his job, he does admit that it can be challenging at times. "We have to make decisions under dangerous circumstances and in a hurry," Noblitt says.
Noblitt came to the homicide unit a year ago. "It's heartbreaking to see the agony in the faces of the victim's family," says Noblitt, "but it makes you more determined."
A recent addition to the homicide team, Sgt. Scott Thurmond joined the Birmingham Police Department more than 10 years ago. "The fact that there is no routine. The constant change. The action and excitement. The fast pace," is what Thurmond says drew him to law enforcement. Before joining homicide, Thurmond worked in the crimes against property unit.
Outside of work, Thurmond likes to spend time with his family as well as run and do yard work.
Det. Erika Anthony has been on the Birmingham Police Department for over 14 years. Her initial reason for joining the force was to make a difference in the lives of abused children.
She joined homicide 4 years ago. "This job is very stressful and emotional," she says. "The cases become a part of you." And while she says death is something you get used to, "all homicides do affect you."
Anthony has 3 sisters and a brother and spends her time away from the office making arts and crafts.
Det. Warren Cotton has spent the past seven years of his fourteen years with the Birmingham Police Department in homicide. He was drawn to the unique challenges of working homicide cases and says, "I wanted to bring justice to victims concerning the most dangerous crimes known to man."
He adds, "I think compassion and understanding makes a good detective; being able to put yourself in the victim's shoes." One of his most difficult, but memorable, cases was when he had to respond to the death of three of his fellow officers, killed in the line of duty.
Cotton met his wife in the military. They have been married for fourteen years and have two children, a boy and a girl.
Det. Tim McCord has been with the Birmingham Police Department for over 14 years. He says he joined the force to help people in the community and to make the city the safe. According to McCord, a good homicide detective is willing to work diligently on the case until an arrest is made.
Outside of work, McCord spends most of his time with his son and daughter.
Det. Marcel Walker joined homicide after spending seven years working undercover in vice/narcotics. He credits his work in that unit with giving him the strong foundation necessary to work homicide. "Being a street cop, you learn how to deal with people, how to talk to people, how to interview and read people."
In his short time in the unit, Walker has already recognized the great responsibility of working homicide cases. "You've got to be willing to sacrifice part of your personal life to stay up here in homicide and be effective," he says.
Walker is a proud parent of twin girls. They are his inspiration. "I love my girls. I think they're ultimately why I do my job. I try to keep them safe in the world."
"I enjoy it," says Det. Mike Allison of his job in law enforcement. Allison has been with the Birmingham PD for 15 years and has been assigned to the homicide unit for the past four. Working homicide, Allison says, requires a high level of commitment and determination. "You can't do this job just to get a paycheck," says Allison. "A person has to want to be here."
Allison holds his fellow colleagues in high regard. "I'm proud to work with the men and women assigned to homicide. They are all unselfish and will work as long at it takes to solve a case."
Det. Allison has two adult children. In his spare time, Allison likes to bicycle with his children and travel to cycling competitions in Southeast.
Nicknamed "Big Red", Det. Christopher Anderson credits his mother, a retired police sergeant, as his inspiration for joining the Birmingham Police Department.
Anderson was assigned to homicide 3 years ago and admits that initially it was hard adjustment to be around such emotionally intense investigations. Anderson lists organization, good listening skills, and a fair temperament as qualities that make a good homicide detective.
When asked what he would be doing if he weren't a police officer, Anderson says he'd be a coach and or a teacher.
Det. Roy Bristow has been with the Birmingham Police Department for 15 years, with the past 10 years in homicide.
"I've always wanted to be a police officer," Bristow says, "and most of all investigate homicides." Bristow admits that working homicide can be demanding, but says he is proud knowing he can make a difference in people lives.
In his spare time, Bristow practices tae-kwon-do.
A 20-year veteran of the Birmingham Police department, Det. Fernando George has been in the homicide department for 4 years.
"It's a job where you can make a difference" says George. "It's satisfying to catch a bad guy. You know you're keeping the community safe from a horrible guy." But Geroge also mentions that the job does come with some drawbacks. "It's a job where you are forced in center stage, and sometimes it's scary."
During his time off George likes to spend time with his family and is an avid reader of comic books.
Det. Jody Jacobs signed up for the Birmingham Police Department 16 years ago and has spent the past 12 years in homicide. "Being around the criminal element as child," says Jacobs, is what inspired him to join the force.
Jacobs says the best part of being a homicide detective is bringing closure to the victim's family. "I love to interact with the family. At times, it gives you insight to who you are dealing with."
He is married and has two children. Jacobs describes his family as being close and says, "We are not afraid to say we love each other."
"I became a homicide detective to help people," says 18-year police veteran Det. Henry Lucas. After studying Criminal Justice in college, joining the Birmingham Police Department seemed like the natural progression.
Lucas has been in the homicide unit for over 3 years and describes a good detective as someone who genuinely loves people.
Lucas has a very supportive family and when he's not working likes to put his energy into doing things at home.
14-year Birmingham PD veteran Det. Cynthia Morrow has been with the homicide unit for 5 years. "I don't think I will ever get use to seeing the hurt and pain of a family who has lost a loved one."
"It can be very stressful," says Morrow about working homicide, "but I work with a great group of people." Morrow describes a good detective as someone who listens carefully, pays attention to detail and "can get a true feel of the victim's life and the suspect's life and be able to determine the connection between the two."
Morrow has been married for 23 years to the "best husband in the world" and together they are raising 5 children. In her spare time she loves to jog and take photographs.
Rookie homicide detective John Tanks has been in the Birmingham Police Department for 10 years.
"Not letting a crime like murder go unpunished" Tanks says, is what drew him to become a homicide detective.
During his time off, Tanks like spend time with his wife and two kids and work on home projects.
Inspired by television shows such as "Dragnet" and "Adam 12", Det. Eric Torrence joined the Birmingham Police Department 12 years ago after working as an electronic engineer for 8 years.
Nicknamed "Robocop" by the folks in the neighborhood he worked patrol in, Torrence has been in the homicide unit for 5 years. He says, "Wanting to be the best in my craft, I had to become a homicide detective."
Torrence says that being around death does not bother him as much as the reasons behind the homicide. His goal in the unit is to simply, "Do my best to bring closure and ease the pain" of the victim's family.
Outside of work Torrence likes to spend time with his family.
Known in the office as "Big Country", Det. Jerry Williams has been with the Birmingham police department for 13 years.
Before the joining the force Williams worked as a welder, dabbled in construction and owned his own business. He has spent 8 years in the homicide unit and says that bringing closure to the victim's family is what he most proud of.