ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — While interacting with the community is fundamental to a law enforcement officer’s job, going beyond that to make a difference as a volunteer and positive influencer takes a special effort.
Columbia Southern University (CSU) recently recognized these efforts of Sgt. Ashley Williams of the Easley (South Carolina) Police Department by awarding her its Outstanding Law Enforcement Professional Award. Senior Sgt. William Powell, training coordinator and instructor for the Jefferson County Law Enforcement Training Center in Alabama, was named runner-up.
The Outstanding Law Enforcement Professional Award was established as part of National Crime Prevention Month and to recognize CSU criminal justice students and graduates for their commitment to safety, professionalism and their accomplishments in the industry.
Williams, who is seeking a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice administration, finds it very motivating to help others in need.
“Participating in community-oriented programs such as Meals on Wheels allows me to appreciate the aspects of life that are often overlooked, such as simply having a conversation with elderly members of my community,” said Williams, who has been with the department since 2013.
Williams added that being able to turn someone’s extremely bad day into a more positive experience is one of the biggest driving forces for her.
“The days that I can make an impact in someone else’s life are my favorite days at work,” she added. “The best part of my job is when I get to interact with youth and children. Participating in a brief game of catch or basketball or seeing the joy it brings to them by providing them with a sticker or snack is a feeling like no other.”
Her efforts to make an impact have not gone unnoticed. Williams received the 2016 Officer of the Year award through the Pickens County (South Carolina) Municipal Association, the 2016 Officer of the Year award from the American Legion Post 52, and the 2019 Alumnus of the Year award by Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, South Carolina.
Powell, a CSU graduate with a master’s in criminal justice administration, has also worked to make an impact on his community by working with programs to help raise money for kids’ shoes, feed the homeless, mentor young black males and speak to caregivers who are spouses of cancer patients. Powell’s wife is a cancer survivor.
He has won several awards in his 18-year career. The Director’s Award, earned in 2001 at the law enforcement academy, recognizes leadership potential and keen interest in academy operations.
This might explain why he loves teaching today and created a professional development program designed to enhance the deputies’ knowledge of the law and build on their skill set.
“I have the honor and privilege of working with some of the finest law enforcement officers in the state of Alabama,” he said. “I get job satisfaction when cadets enter the academy to learn and graduate with confidence and the ability to lead.”
Powell also mentored several deputies to help them achieve their education goals.