Helping people is the right reason for becoming a member of law enforcement, according to Matthew Stilwell.
For more than a decade, Stilwell has served as chief of police for the Town of Watts. He’s also been the assistant fire chief for the last seven years and up until this last year was the head football coach of the Watts Engineers.
Eleven years ago, Stilwell was one of several individuals interviewed by the Watts Board of Trustees, and he was offered the position after that process.
“Being chief of a small department has several logistics and financial challenges, but through persistence, hard work, and most importantly, having a loyal, trustworthy, hard-working staff of co-workers through the years, we have faced and overcome those challenges. We continue to work hard for The Town of Watts and the whole north end of Adair County,” Stilwell said.
Making a difference matters to Stilwell.
“As cliche as it may sound, I enjoy helping people. Law enforcement and coaching are all I ever wanted to do,” he said.
Since he started, some improvements have been accomplished.
“When I was first hired, I was the only full-time officer, and there was one reserve officer, with only a couple of old Crown Vics. I have since been able to buy new cars and hire a police staff to better serve the community," Stilwell said. "Also the programs that we have been able to start with the work of the city clerk like Shop With a Cop, Christmas parade and Town Picnic and dinners."
Watts is changing the town's image, starting with cleaning up derelict properties. It’s a good place to call home, with friendly residents.
“The forgotten land [also known as] Watts isn't a bad place like everyone thinks. Watts is a quiet community with really great people,” Stilwell said.
The town is looking toward growth as the WOKA Whitewater Park is completed next year.
“I expect it to bring more people through the community and help Watts expand,” said Stilwell.