UAPD officer named Officer of the Year for actions during shooting

Tajma Henderson

Niles Bernabe

UAPD officer Brad Thomas has been recognized as the Exchange Club of Tuscaloosa’s Officer of the Year for UAPD for his service and actions during a shooting in front of Rounders on the Strip. 

Last October, a shot rang out outside of Rounders on the Strip. The 28-year-old victim was shot in the lower back and the suspects fled the scene in a car. 

Thomas was several blocks from the scene working a traffic incident when he saw the suspects’ vehicle heading toward his direction. Thomas pulled his car across University Blvd. to stop the suspects’ vehicle. He then held the suspects at gunpoint until additional units arrived to assist in taking them into custody.

“It was an honor to be recognized by my department and my peers for doing a good job,” Thomas said. “It’s humbling to know someone recognized that what you did was good.”

UAPD Chief John Hooks said in an interview with UA News that Thomas’ actions earned him the award.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of Officer Thomas,” said Hooks. “His actions exemplify what it means to be a police officer at The University of Alabama … he remained conscious of the safety of those around him throughout this highly dangerous and stressful encounter. His quick and thoughtful actions leading to the subsequent apprehension of the suspect cannot be understated.”

The Exchange Club of Tuscaloosa is a service organization that supports youth and community service programs as well as charitable organizations. Ken Swindle from the Exchange Club has been running the annual award program since the late 80’s.

“Once a year, we honor the five top law enforcement agencies in Tuscaloosa County: Tuscaloosa Police Department, Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s Office, University of Alabama Police Department, Northport Police Department, and the Alabama State Troopers,” Swindle said. “We let them submit to us a recommendation, and we take that person and we give them an award as top law enforcement for that agency.”

The award ceremony, which Thomas could not attend, was held to celebrate the service of outstanding law enforcement officers in the community.

“We want to say thank you for all that they do. We invite their families in with the recipient and let them be there with them when they receive the award to let them know how much we appreciate what they do for the community day in and day out.”

Swindle said the event celebrated Thomas’ courage while facing multiple suspects who were known to be armed. Many of his peers and community officials were invited to recognize his composure during the incident.

“We usually have about 125 to 150 plus members come in to Indian Hills country club,” Swindle said. “We also have a guest speaker, this year we had the Attorney General Steve Marshall. We always try to get someone related to law enforcement to honor them and say how well they’ve done and how much it means to have law enforcement out there every year.”

Thomas has been in law enforcement for about 15 years, spending eight and a half years with the Tuscaloosa Police Department starting in 2003. During his time with the TPD, Thomas served as a field training officer, an investigator for the juvenile division, a sniper for the SWAT team and worked on the Major Crimes scene response unit.

In 2012, Thomas decided to transfer to UAPD where he currently works as a patrol officer.