A reception was held at the Sweetwater Police Department (SPD) on Monday morning to honor reserve officer Willie James, who retired after 21 years of service with the SPD.
Although born in Oklahoma, James has lived in Sweetwater. He began his work in law enforcement in 1985 when he was sworn in as a reserve officer in Odessa. After serving in Ector County for four years, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Four years later, James made the decision to move to Sweetwater. In June of 1992, he became a reserve officer for the SPD. The decision to retire on his birthday goes back to the date he began in law enforcement in Odessa--on his birthday, May 20.
During the reception, James and his colleagues reminisced on a few of their favorite--and sometimes funny--memories together. Some of the recollections were James' interactions with offenders of the law, fellow officers and one of the few instances he called for backup.
The gathering also allowed them to praise the retiring reserve officer. According to Lieutenant Randy Hanes, James gave up between 5,000 and 6,000 hours of his time to serve the city.
Over 90% of the time, James would respond when he was called to work, and in many instances the hours were in addition to the regular time he put in. His commitment led his colleagues to call him "reliable."
James stated that his time in local law enforcement has been "fun and exciting." He said he enjoyed working in Sweetwater and the people with whom he worked.
Additionally, he appreciates everyone who supported him and is thankful that he was never injured or shot at during his service. However, James is not done serving others, as he intends to continue as a volunteer fireman with the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department.
"Some may go and new ones will come," James said, "but now it's time for me to go."
And according to Detective Melinda Moncada: "It won't be the same without him."