James Coker has dedicated decades of his life to the fight for justice including his time in the military, the Hoover police department, the FBI and his current position as the Director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, which he has held since 2014.
He was recently honored as the Young Alumni of the Year for Faulkner University’s Criminal Justice and Legal Studies Department. Coker spoke to current students during Homecoming Weekend and the annual Marketplace Forums where he joined other alumni honorees, including the department’s graduate Emma Herren.
Coker retired from the Hoover Police Department after 35 years. It was during this time that he studied and graduated from Faulkner in 2013 with a Master’s degree in Justice Administration.
He said he chose Faulkner for several reasons including class size, individual attention and caliber of the professors and level of accreditation, but mainly for knowing he could speak about his faith freely.
“Students are allowed to make statements about their faith in the course of the classes,” Coker said. “In my career I have had many opportunities to witness how God moves people.
“I have been present when lives have ended. I have seen the fragility of life and the absolute miracle that is the creation of God, mankind. I’ve seen sacrifices both small and large. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and those in Public Safety get to see exhibitions of kindness that many never see.
“It is up to us to take advantage of the opportunities that God gives us. He gave me the opportunity to continue my education and my graduate degree had a significant impact in my position now.”
Coker also served in the Alabama Army National Guard and the Army Reserve in the 1980s and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and served as a course coordinator and instructor for the Alabama Fire College and as an instructor for the FBI.
He had received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and decided 30 years later to continue his education. He and his wife Lynne, are also adjunct professors at Faulkner.
Coker has three children, Kristin Odom, Austin Coker and Anna Coker and two grandsons.