SYLACAUGA – Working with young people and helping them find their way in the world has been a high point in the career of Sylacauga Police Officer Willie Kidd. The stress of trying to figure out why people make wrong choices in their lives has been the hard part.

Scores of friends, relatives and well-wishers turned out Friday afternoon at Sylacauga City Hall to wish Kidd well on his retirement from a 24-year career with the Sylacauga Police Department.

“With any retirement comes change,” said Police Chief Chris Carden. “You have to adapt. There are several things that Willie has brought to this job that have been felt not just by the police department, but by the community. You’d be hard-pressed to find a police officer in this era who has touched more lives.”

Carden said that when he started his own law enforcement career, he rode in the car with Kidd before he even went to police academy.

Kidd said he has three families: the one at home that includes his wife, daughters, mother and brother; the one at the police department that includes his brothers and sisters in arms; and the one in the Sylacauga City Schools, where he has served as a school resource officer for the last 14 years.

“To make it to the end of my career is a blessing, and to have the support of my family. You have good days and bad days.”

Kidd, who also served as a Boy Scout leader in Sylacauga’s public housing for 11 years, said police officers strive to live up to rigorous standards set by the community, but each one is susceptible to human shortcomings. “But, you put your badge on and you do one thing: the best job you can do,” he said.

He recalled being hired by former Police Chief Billy Hay and working with old-guard Sylacauga officers including Jimmy Nail, Wayne Murchison, Marty Batson, and Kidd’s uncle, Lt. Alvin Kidd.

Alvin Kidd went to work in the department in about 1971 and Willie Kidd in 1990, so Willie Kidd’s retirement makes the first time in about 43 years that there has not been a member of the Kidd family in the department.

Mayor Doug Murphree started Friday’s honors, commenting on Kidd’s notable career. “We can fill the position, but we can never replace Willie Kidd,” Murphree said.

Talladega County Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore presented Kidd a “get out of jail free card,” but joked that it was good for only one day, and only Kilgore gets to choose which day.

Carden took the dais and expressed appreciation to Kidd for his 24 years of service and presented Kidd his badge and service weapon, which the City Council had declared surplus so it could be presented to the retiring officer.

As for his retirement plans, Kidd said, “First, I’m going to breathe for a minute.”

He said his family is considering relocating to Knoxville, Tenn., next year with his wife’s job.

Sylacauga Investigator Mike Smith looked back on his friendship with Kidd all the way to B.B. Comer Memorial High School in about 1980. He recalled Kidd being shot and injured in the line of duty in 2002.

“I love him and I’ll miss him,” Smith said.

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