Thomas, who now works with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, was a huge inspiration on young Harrell, who liked the way Thomas talked about his job.
After high school, Harrell attended the Northeast Alabama Police Academy at Jacksonville State University. He started when he was 18 and graduated at 19. He also attended the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center in Selma.
Five and a half years ago, his dream was realized when he was hired as an Alabama State Trooper.
Harrell said he’s ecstatic about his job and the opportunity to serve the area where he grew up.
“I love the part of my job where I get to go out and help people,“ he said. “There’s nothing greater than that.”
He and another trooper and friend, Matt Orman, are assigned to protective service detail for the JSU football team, and are present at all the games.
Harrell said back in ninth grade, when he told his friends of his plans to become a state trooper, they didn’t believe him. Now, they look at him with respect because he accomplished what he set out to do.
Harrell is in the 200th Regiment of the National Guard at McClellan.
He is the son of Rose Johnson of Rome, Ga., and Jimmy Harrell of Jacksonville and the step-son of Terry “Pop” Allen of Jacksonville. His sister, Tracy Echols, lives in Weaver.
Harrell is president of the Benevolence Association of the Alabama State Troopers, as well as the Alabama State Trooper Association.
There’s something else Harrell always wanted to do, and it finally happened this year.
He began the process of forming Bumper to Bumper Lighting LLC in mid January and officially opened it on March 1. It’s located at his home, 1403 George Douthit Drive S. W. His phone number is 453-9008. Harrell guarantees his work for three years.
“I was kind of scared to try it,” he said. “But it was something I always liked. I did some customization on my own truck, and that kind of drove me home.”
He said he can do everything from changing a blown light bulb in someone’s vehicle to fully customizing the vehicle, putting in led replacement bulbs and adding interior and exterior lights. He also does headlight restoration.
“What I use is not the stuff Wal-Mart sells,” he said. “I stand behind what I sell for three years. If someone’s headlights are yellowing, fading or scratched up, I can sand them down and buff them out, using a good polish I have, put a UV protective on it and then add a clear back to it.”
Harrell emphasizes two things – his prices are reasonable and this business, which he calls his hobby, doesn’t take away from his love of being a state trooper.
Harrell believes he couldn’t have achieved these goals without the help of three men who he calls his mentors – Thomas, Allen and his father.
The day Harrell and his father visited Thomas changed his life. Throughout Harrell’s teens, Thomas encouraged him to become a state trooper.
Allen enjoys doing the kind of work that Bumper to Bumper Lighting LLC provides, and he not only persuaded Harrell to pursue that dream, he also gave him a lot of helpful tips.
“My dad has always been fully supportive of me in any productive decisions I’ve ever made,” said Harrell. “He wasn’t in law enforcement or the military, but he just had that fatherly instinct that I would be good at being a state trooper and having this business. He knew both of them would be good for me. He always pushed me to do what he thought was in my best interest.”
Harrell is proud of the slogan he came up with for Bumper to Bumper Lighting, which is “It’s time to see what you’ve been missing.”