APD Chief Williams retires

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mayor Earl Johnson bids Williams a fond farewell Tuesday.

Mayor Earl Johnson bids Williams a fond farewell Tuesday.

A group of his friends, family members, co-workers and fellow Rotarians gathered Tuesday at the training center named in his honor to wish Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams a happy retirement.

Williams has been the local chief for 13 years.

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson, who hired Williams in his first administration, said the city’s nationwide search for a chief yielded a number of highly qualified candidates.

“The council and I personally interviewed 12 people,” Johnson recalled. “He was the last one. When Chief came in and gave a presentation about his career. Well, as soon as he walked out the door, it was all over.”

Johnson said it was clear to all of the council members at that time that Williams was the best candidate.

“He’s done a tremendous job,” Johnson said.

“I never dreamed we could have a facility of this quality for law enforcement training here in Andalusia, and the people of Andalusia will be forever grateful for the leadership he provided.”

Rep. Mike Jones, who also serves as municipal judge, was on the council when Williams was hired.

“In many ways, I am sad to see this day come,” Jones said. “He has backed me up more times than I can count, and I appreciate all he has done.”

During his tenure as chief in Andalusia, Williams served as president of the Alabama Association of Police Chiefs. He followed former Sylacauga Chief Louis Zook, current of the attorney general’s office, as president.

Zook said Williams’ retirement leaves “big shoes to fill, in Andalusia and in the law enforcement profession as well. He’s done a fine job.”

Matt Mancil of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center and formerly of the APD praised Williams for encouraging all officers to further their educations, and said it was that encouragement that pushed him forward in his career.

In his 13 years as chief, Williams managed budgets totaling more than $25 million, and successfully obtained grant funding to improve his department’s equipment.

In 2003, under his leadership, the APD was one of 41 departments in the nation to receive funding to fight the meth epidemic. The local department’s share was more than $220,000.

In 2005, he secured $235,000 in federal funding to upgrade the department’s technology.

He also led the effort to secure grant and low-interest loan funds for the construction of a local law enforcement training facility and shooting range. It is an accomplishment of which he is very proud.

“Since the facility opened, we have recorded more than 16,000 hours of high quality training here,” he said.

Williams, who worked in education after retiring from the Mobile Police Department where he spent most of his career investigating homicides, said he has always believed a department should have the
best trained officers possible.

“Our citizens deserve the very best protection we can provide to them,” he said.

Williams said he has always demanded his officers give 110 percent, and he left them with a challenge.

“I hope you will continue the efforts of United Fund, Christmas angels and Relay for Life,” he said, adding that the APD was the agency that raised the most money for Relay in recent years.

“For you to be supported and accepted, you better support the community.”

He also reminded them that regardless of who they work for in the future, their allegiance should be to the oaths they took to become officers, and to the citizens who pay their salaries.