GULF SHORES, Ala — The latest batch of police recruits in an Alabama beach town faced an interview board that included law enforcement experts and a civilian who was recognizable by his voice if not by his face: Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman.
Freeman, a Mississippi native who owns property in Gulf Shores and spends time in the town of 12,000, was part of a seven-member panel that interviewed nine potential officers for the Gulf Shores Police Department last week, Deputy Chief Dan Netemeyer said Wednesday.
The department sometimes asks residents to participate in such screening committees, Netemeyer said. Freeman knows some people who have helped and volunteered to serve.
“It was kind of a last minute thing, but he was an active participant," Netemeyer said.
Known for roles in movies including “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Unforgiven,” and “Million Dollar Baby,” Freeman sat at a table asking questions with other interviewers including Netemeyer, the police chief, a criminal justice professor and others.
“He had a hat on, and he was kind of sitting back. When he introduced himself it was almost like an old ‘Candid Camera’ scene,” Netemeyer said.
Even if someone did not recognize Freeman's face, he said, there was no mistake once he spoke. “It was that voice, the same one you hear in the movies,” he said.
The hiring process is not complete, Netemeyer said, but at least some of the recruits likely will be offered jobs.
Freeman and Linda Keena, a University of Mississippi professor who also lives in Gulf Shores and helped with the interviews, recently donated $1 million to establish the Center of Evidence-Based Policing and Reform at the university.