• 30°

Coast to coast: Law enforcement a family affair

When news shots of Los Angeles flash across her television set, Lawrence County Sheriff's Deputy Julia Jones is sure to take more than a passing interest - particularly if the news story involves the police.

Jones just might see her brother, Andy Markel or Andy's wife, Tammy. Both are members of the Los Angeles Police Department. Both have come up through the ranks as patrol officers and both have been involved in some of the city's high-profile incidents over the last decade.

"That's my baby brother," Julia said with a smile. "I'm proud of him."

Andy, a 1982 graduate of Rock Hill High School, joined the Navy after he got his diploma. After a stint in Long Beach, Calif., he applied to join the LAPD. He became an officer in 1987. The Markels met at work and share a love of that work. Both he and Tammy have seen the best and worst of their city over the years.

Tammy was working the desk the night Rodney King had his encounter with seven LAPD officers in 1991.

"I missed that by three days," she said. "I found out I was pregnant and after that I was on the desk."

She was working the streets as a patrol officer the next year when some of the officers involved in the Rodney King incident were acquitted of beating him and angry residents poured into the streets to riot.

Andy was working as an undercover officer. Both describe the riots as "scary."

Andy was a field sergeant during the infamous North Hollywood bank shootout in 1997. Both officers and suspects were wounded in the heist.

"I was sergeant seven months," he said. "I responded to the call and then was sent to the hospital to set up security for the injured."

For some, it may be unfathomable that anyone would want to work in the police department of one of the nation's largest cities, one with a high crime rate and a history of riots and high profile incidents.

Andy explains it this way.

"There is a feeling you get when you know you're doing the right thing," he said.

Now a tactical instructor for the LAPD's officer training program, Andy teaches such issues as the use of force to the roughly 600 recruits who attend classes each year.

He is also one of only a handful of LAPD personnel who are qualified to testify about departmental policy and procedure during civil and criminal trials.

"Teaching, I think, is a real passion. I love seeing the light on young officers' faces when they look at you and they understand what you're teaching them," Andy said.

Tammy echoed this sentiment.

"I feel good about myself, knowing that I am helping people," she said.

Jones and her husband Ray can understand this passion that Andy and Tammy have for law enforcement. Both Julia and Ray are Lawrence County Sheriff's deputies.

How did it happen that four members of the same family - two couples - share the same career field? It may have had something to do with their parents, Harry and Jeanie.

"Our dad was a Marine," Andy said with a laugh. "So we grew up in a militaristic household."

"But really Mom was the drill sergeant," Julia added humorously.

They may have a point: Two of their four siblings spent time in the military. And law enforcement is a quasi-military organization.

It was family ties that brought the Markels to Ironton for a visit: Andy and Tammy, along with daughters Maggie and Olivia, are in town for his parent's 50th anniversary celebration.