GREG ALIA WASN’T trying to arrest a couple of violent drug dealers. He wasn’t infiltrating a gang, breaking up a bank robbery, chasing a murder suspect or rescuing a hostage.
The 32-year-old Forest Acres police officer was responding to a report of a suspicious person. It was one of the hundreds of routine calls our police agencies get every day. But as law enforcement officials know too well, no call is routine.
Officer Alia was shot to death after chasing the suspicious person into Richland Mall and struggling with the man, identified as Jarvis Hall, 34, of Eastover. He leaves behind a widow, a 6-month-old son, his parents and countless other relatives and friends.
Funeral arrangements set
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It is unfortunate that we need a tragedy such as Officer Alia’s murder to remind us of the risks officers confront every day. These men and women likely could get jobs elsewhere for at least the same pay but with better hours, less stress and fewer dangers. Yet they seek law enforcement careers because they want to serve and they want our communities to be safe.
They want the rest of us to enjoy shopping, dining, working and playing without fear. They want the rest of us to know they are just a phone call away if we hear a noise outside the window, if our neighbor’s music is too loud, if someone threatens to harm us, if we see a suspicious person in a mall parking lot.
They respond. They know the risk.
For seven years, Mr. Alia responded to calls in Forest Acres. A graduate of Richland Northeast High School and the University of South Carolina, he initially pursued a different career. He moved to California to work on movie sets, but he felt the call of law enforcement, and so he returned home.
And he became the type of officer others admire.
Forest Acres police officer Greg Alia remembered as upstanding man, father
“He felt it was his place and his role to be in that position,” his wife of nearly four years, Kassy Alia, told The State. “He was loyal. He was fair. He was forgiving. He was everything that you could ask for in a person.”
Kassy Alia spoke about a time she and Greg were eating lunch with her parents in Virginia and Greg saw three boys bullying another one. Greg intervened.
“He never hesitated to do the right thing,” she said.
The news media appropriately report on officers who run afoul of the law they promise to preserve. But those officers are vastly outnumbered by the men and women who work so hard to serve their communities.
On Wednesday, they and we were reminded again that their service comes with enormous risk. We all should take every opportunity to thank them for their service.
Thanks to Mr. Alia’s parents for raising such a great son to serve his community. Thanks to his wife for sharing him with Forest Acres.