MOODY, AL – I was a journalist for years. I was trained to remove emotion from my writing. That’s not going to happen here.
One of the kindest police officers our team at Law Enforcement Today has ever known was murdered last night.
His name was Sgt. Stephen Williams and worked at the Moody Police Department in Alabama.
Let me give you the official details first.
Sgt. Williams was shot and killed Tuesday night when responding to a call at the Super 8 motel. A man and a woman are in custody in connection with his killing.
Their names haven’t been released at this time.
Now let me tell you what the police department told the media about him.
According to Chief Thomas Hunt, Williams had just been promoted to sergeant in the past year. He was a recipient of the Keith Turner Officer of the Year Award.
“Oh, he was awesome,’’ Hunt said of Williams. “He was just a good man, a good person, fun to be around.
“He was very thorough in his reports, a good teach, a good mentor,’’ the chief said. “A lot of the guys looked up to Stephen.”
“All I can ask is for everybody to please be in prayer for the Williams family and for the Moody police department,” Hunt said.
Now let me tell you a little bit about this kind and brave warrior.
Sgt. Williams was a husband and dad.
He had three kids. He was only 50 years old.
He was named Officer of the Year a few years back. He’d been a cop for 23 years – the last three years in Moody.
Sgt. Williams was the guy I’d call when I got depressed about all of the negative media coverage out there about law enforcement. When I needed private guidance on how our team should structure a story. When I needed a reminder that no matter how dark the world seems, there are people out there full of light.
Stephen was the guy people could call in the middle of the night when they were struggling. When they were alone. When they were in a dark place.
He was the guy you could call to share a funny story with. He was the guy you could Snap ridiculous videos to.
He wasn’t a “cop” to us. He was a brother. A role model. A beacon of light.
In his 23 years in law enforcement, Sgt. Williams greatest joy was in bringing the community and law enforcement together. His pages and posts on social media are endless streams about just that.
We’re going to bring you more on this story in the coming days, but as I type this through tears, I want to leave you with one fine taste of who this man was.
A man who loved his community.
A man who was an incredibly proud and loving dad.
A man who didn’t deserve to be killed… much less to die in some cheap motel at the hands of cowards.
Sgt. Williams was a regular contributor for Law Enforcement Today. But he was also incredibly humble and didn’t want attention – and so he asked us to hide his identity.
Brother Stephen, I hope you’ll forgive me for this from up there with the angels.
Today… as our hearts break for the loss of this great man, I’d like to leave you with a story he shared with us at Law Enforcement Today.
In his story, he says:
“I like to stop moving and just watch sometimes. You’d be surprised what will pass by right in front of you when you least expect it.”
Today… take a moment to stop moving. Just watch. Take it in. Hold your families a little tighter. Because you’d be surprised what will pass by right in front of you when you least expect it… time.
This was the man behind the badge. This was the father. Husband. Community leader. Brother.
This was the man who was murdered… for nothing.
This badge is heavy.
Not in actual weight, but the weight it carries. I’ll get back to that.
I like to stop moving and just watch sometimes. You’d be surprised what will pass by right in front of you when you least expect it.
Today I decided to park and watch, but not in one of my usual places. I decided to make a change, for no other reason than to have something different to see.
There I sat, unentertained and bored. I decided to move again.
As soon as my hand reached for the shift lever a car swooped in, and it was really coming. It was moving with haste. I figured there was a medical emergency inside the car.
I jumped out so not to be sitting still when the car stopped right beside me and be caught off guard. The car didn’t even get stopped before the window went down and the driver called out, “Officer, can I talk to you?”
I tapped my body cam twice and said, “Sure.”
The man exited his vehicle and immediately began to pour out his soul to me. He was struggling with something and wanted to share it with someone. Share it with anyone who would listen. As it turns out today that someone was me. So I listened.
He explained in great detail what he was dealing with and it was exasperating. I sympathized with him as best I could.
But then he explained how all he wanted was to be there for his young son, who has special needs.
As most of you know, I don’t take fatherhood lightly. I listened intently as he told his story.
He even showed me a noose he made last night and told me he nearly hanged himself.
He was desperate and seemingly alone in his struggles, barely clinging to his sanity and life. He cried to me as he just pleaded for some direction.
I spent thirty minutes with a man, a total stranger with whom I had nothing in common.
We looked different. We spoke differently. We dressed differently. We grew up on opposite sides of the tracks.
There was no common life experience we shared, except we were both fathers. We had that one thing that bound us together at that moment.
The more we talked we learned we did have some of the same life experiences, he was just behind me a few years. I told him about myself and what I had been through.
Sometimes it is enough to know that you are not the only one who has ever fought this fight. That seemed to bolster him.
He now had a rudimentary plan. Just a start, but it was a start. Any start is better than being stagnant.
We shook hands, then simultaneously leaned in and hugged. I felt the struggle in him. He felt my support. That’s all he needed for today I suppose. We said our goodbyes and salutations.
I did not know this man. I had no history with him. I can’t even tell you his name.
But our encounter happened because I parked in a different location, in a marked patrol car, wearing a badge.
A very heavy badge.
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