ALBANY, Ga. -- Staffers from a multitude of local law enforcement agencies held a barbecue Wednesday to uphold their spirit of camaraderie during National Police Week.
"This is our 7th annual Law Enforcement Memorial Cook Off competition," said Albany Police Department Lt. Tracey Barnes. "This cook-off brings us together informally because we are a family.
Otherwise we just see each other when we respond to emergencies."
The barbecue contest was held at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge on Dunbar Lane with 10 teams cooking a variety of chicken, ribs and pork. The winners would obtain bragging rights as the best "Bar-B-Que Kings and Queens," said an Albany Police Department e-mail.
The contestants and judges came from many area law enforcement agencies, emergency medical response agencies and the court system in Dougherty and Lee counties. In all, a participant estimated 250 people passed through the outdoor cook fest during the day.
Acting as a judge, Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals joked about his qualifications.
"I don't really know what qualifies me as a barbecue judge," Rachals said. "Unless it is being a Southern man who likes good barbecue."
The barbecue judges also included others from the ranks of law enforcement and a recent graduate of the Albany police Citizens Police Academy, Karen Hogue.
"The academy was really wonderful," Hogue said. "As a resident I think this makes me feel more part of the police community."
In a show of impartiality the barbecue also had officially certified barbecue judges, such as John Stacey of Columbus.
"These police officers take their barbecue chicken like they take their fight against crime," Stacey said, "very seriously."
More formally today law enforcement members will honor those of their number who have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve and protect their neighbors.
At 11 a.m. law enforcement agency members will gather to honor those fallen in the line of duty in a Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony at the Veterans Park Amphitheater on Front Street across from the Albany Civic Center.