NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - For the first time since the shooting death of one of Newport Police Department's very own, Police Chief Michael Scudder talked about how great of a colleague and man Lt. Patrick Weatherford was to him and the community.
"I hired when he was around 25 or 26 and he has given us over 15 years here," said Scudder. "I met him in a grocery store and was blown away at the type of man he was. I had to hire him."
Scudder said being a small department, everyone means everything to each other.
"What people don't realize, we are close," said Scudder. "We have to be and he was one of my very close friends."
Scudder also said Weatherford was such a thorough employee, that he ran the Criminal Investigation Department perfectly.
"He was so organized," said Scudder. "I use to tell him he had OCD, he was so organized but by far one of the best investigators in my career."
With such a close relationship with Weatherford, Scudder said he was devastated after he learned that his best friend and brother was shot and killed in the line of duty.
"I was sick," said Scudder. "It was the most awful thing I have ever experienced in my whole career and I am on 35 years now."
Scudder said he has made sure to check on Weatherford's wife and kids since the tragic death.
"Anything we can do from now until the end of time, we will do it," said Scudder. "If she needs her yard mowed. It is mowed. We will take care of her."
At the department, Scudder said it is hard to judge how his officers are feeling but he understands it will be a long road to recovery after this loss.
"Some of the younger guys hold things like this in because they are not used to something of this magnitude," said Scudder. "Several officers were very close to Weatherford and they are getting help through this time."
Scudder said he is not surprised by the community's love and support for the Weatherford family, not only because Jackson County is such a giving community, but because Weatherford touched a lot of people.
"Even in his investigations, even with the people he ended up having to file charges on. I promise you, if you talked to them, they respected him," said Scudder. "Because he treated them with respect. No matter what he was investigating, no matter what they had done. He gave them a sense of respect when he was dealing with them. That was Patrick."
Scudder said they will continue to be strong as a department and as a family because that is exactly what Weatherford would have wanted.
"He will never be forgotten," said Scudder. "That is not going to happen. He will be missed greatly, more than most."
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