On occasion, Dothan Police Capt. David Jay is recognized for something other than his role in law enforcement.
“Even still today, you’ll be out and (people say) ‘You’re that singing cop, aren’t you?’” Jay said. “They still remember it, and we haven’t been singing since ‘06.”
However, Jay and the other members of the police-singing group Apostle will be performing on April 6 during a benefit concert in honor of Officer Mark Foster, who died on Christmas Eve at the age of 47. The Mark Foster Memorial Concert will be held at Cloverdale Baptist Church in Dothan at 6 p.m. Proceeds from the event will go to help Foster’s family.
Apostle will be joined by Terry Davis of The Florida Boys, One Accord’s Tim Benton and the Mount Gilead Quartet.
In the late 1990s, a group of officers wanted to change the image of the city’s law enforcement. They decided to start a gospel group and called themselves Apostle. They became so popular that when they weren’t working as police officers, they were traveling to perform. They released two CDs – one in 2002 and the second in 2004. But as the members moved up in rank within the department, finding time to even practice was difficult. So, the group stopped performing full time in 2006.
“We were singing a lot,” said Police Chief Greg Benton, who sings tenor with the group. “It got to be a full-time job just singing – Saturday nights, Sunday mornings, during the week. We reached a lot of people during that time.”
Today, Apostle performs mainly for special events and fundraisers. Along with Jay singing lead and Benton singing tenor, Sgt. Brian Smith sings bass and Sgt. Jon Beeson sings baritone. Lt. Benny Baxley is the group’s sound man.
Within a few weeks of Foster’s sudden and unexpected death, the members knew they wanted to do something for the officer’s family – his wife and two children (a daughter in high school and a son in college). Foster was an officer in the department’s traffic division and was a department fixture at events like National Night Out, the National Peanut Festival or leading the department’s Special Olympics torch run on his motorcycle.
His absence has penetrated all ranks of the agency, Jay said.
“We can tell he’s not here,” Jay said. “People leave … you really don’t feel a difference. You can honestly feel Mark is not here with us as a department. It’s affected everybody in this agency, it really has.”
Benton and Smith said Foster was a person everybody liked and nobody ever had anything bad to say about. In three years as police chief, Benton said he never received a complaint about Foster – a rare occurrence among law enforcement simply because of the nature of the job.
“Never received a complaint on him – a lot of compliments but never a complaint, and you don’t find that very often,” Benton said. “Mark was one of those guys when he gave you a ticket, you knew you deserved it and you were thanking him for it when he gave it to you. He just had one of those personalities.”