Footsteps of Greatness: Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles’ Mother-Daughter Duo

As an officer for the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles’ Anniston Field Office, Donnelle Thompson is helping keep residents of Calhoun County safe.

Officer Donnelle Thompson has charted a course of positive influence over her career. She was a police officer in Piedmont, retired as a federal probation officer, and taught criminal justice classes at Troy University. She has made a career of keeping innocent people safe, but her greatest influence is stationed 100 miles away from Anniston at the Montgomery Field Office.

Dannielle Thompson (note the difference) is an Officer Trainee for ABPP in Montgomery County. The déjà vu can be explained: Donnelle is Dannielle’s mother. Fresh out of the Police Academy, Dannielle cites her mother’s intrepid career as one of main reasons for joining this challenging line of work.

After graduating from Florida State University, Dannielle attended law school for a brief time. However, after a series of life events prevented her from continuing post-graduate work, her mom had another idea.

“Mom said why don’t you look into becoming a parole officer,” Danielle said, going on to say she “just fell into” the career.

“It allows me to help others,” Dannielle said, explaining that in a way she still can be involved in the law but from the enforcement side of the process. 

“Small things can help change a person’s mindset,” Dannielle has observed. When asked about her favorite aspect of the job so far, she enjoys home visits. “You get to see people in their environment. You learn a lot about people when you go into their home.”

Dannielle respects the trail her mother has blazed, saying “Mom went through the police academy, federal probation academy, corrections academy…” before Donnelle interjected with a laugh, “then at 52 they sent me through the refresher course.”

The accomplished officer has one primary piece of advice for her daughter: “Treat everyone with respect, because it’s the only way you’re going to get respect in return.”

Through her 33 years of law enforcement experience, Donnelle has found a way to make things fun. “I love this job. It’s rewarding, but it’s also entertaining.” She spent some time recounting some humorous – some might say scary – moments from her career, like how as a police officer she was called to a dead body in a BBQ restaurant where everyone continued to eat like nothing had happened.

Talking with Donnelle, it’s easy to see the joy and pride she puts into her law enforcement career. She knows her daughter will have her own collection of stories to tell over the course of her career and is quite proud of what she has accomplished so far.

Dannielle was asked if she sees herself getting as much joy out of her career as her mom. Her response: “We’ll see.”