Bill Crowell to turn in his badge
Captain Bill Crowell with the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department will be hanging up his badge on Aug. 31 after serving over four decades as a law enforcement officer.
Crowell started his 44-year career with the Blytheville Police Department in 1960 before going to the State Police on Jan. 15, 1962. He retired from the State Police after 26 years of service. He then worked several years for the Manila Police Department before joining the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department where he worked for the last 14 years.
"I still enjoy the work, but there comes a day when it is time to quit. I don't want to work until I can't do my job. My dad (the late Russ Crowell) told me one time to quit work while you still can do things," Crowell said.
Crowell's mother, Ruby Crowell, lives in Leachville.
He said his wife, Norita, has a list of things for him to do. He said they plan to travel, spend more time with the grandchildren, and work in the yard.
"Norita married a farmer but ended up with a policeman," Crowell said. "She has been very supportive through the years. She has spent a lot of hours with just her and the kids. I know that she worried, but she was always there. It takes a special person to be married to a police officer. We always had a scanner tuned in and Norita always knew if something wasn't just right."
His first assignment with State Police was in El Dorado. He attended the Academy in Camp Robinson in Little Rock in 1963.
He and his family moved back to Mississippi County in 1972. Other than six months in Jonesboro, he was in Mississippi County until he retired.
Crowell made sergeant with the State Police in 1972.
"With the State Police we had full police powers but mostly we worked the highway patrol division. We went through the trials and tribulations of riots in the 1960s and 70s.
"When Martin Luther King was killed, we were all pulled out and sent to West Memphis to be on standby," Crowell recalled.
Crowell said in the early years, they did not have the drug problem like today.
"Drinking alcohol and driving was the main problem then," he said. "We spent a lot of time chasing down whiskey stills and going into the fields looking for marijuana."
In his 44 years as police officer, he said he only had to shoot one person and it was not fatal. The incident took place in the early 1970s.
"We had a prisoner from the county jail that attempted a break and took a hostage," Crowell said.
He said you just do your job, and after it is all over then you realize what could have happened.
"No matter how many traffic accidents you work or how much human suffering you see, you really never get used to it," Crowell said.
The working conditions are better today with better equipment, he said.
"When I first went to work, there were no air conditioners and our radio equipment was not great," he said.
In all of the years he has served, he never dreaded going to work. He has met interesting people and politicians as they came through Arkansas and worked under several governors.
"Like all other jobs, some days are better than others," he said.
He has enjoyed working with Mississippi County Sheriff's Department where he is Patrol Captain.
He is called "Papa" by many of the deputies.
He and Sheriff Leroy Meadows worked together for 17 years in the State Police and 14 years in the County. Crowell served as Meadows' supervisor while on the State Police Department and Sheriff Meadows served as his supervisor at the County.
Crowell said if he could go back, he would do it all over again.
"I've enjoyed all of my police work. It is all I have ever known," he said.
He admits it will be difficult not to answer the call when one comes in. That will take some getting used to.
The Crowells have two sons, Joey and Tony.
Joey lives in Hernando, Miss., and is a registered nurse. He was accepted in the State Police but had already starting his nursing career. Their youngest son, Tony, lives in Manila and is a State Trooper. He also owns Lifetime Medical in Manila.
The Crowells have four grandchildren, Ashley 18; Noah 2-1/2; Harrison 7; and Sawyer 2.
Crowell will be honored with a drop-in from 2-5 p.m. Saturday at the Manila Community Center. Everyone is welcome to stop by and wish him well in his retirement.