ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — When the worst-case situation happens and police are called, naturally everyone has empathy for the victims and their families. But the officers who are first to respond also deal with their own demons.
St. Louis County Police Department Chaplain Byron Watson sends a prayer and stands strong for those officers.
He’s been on the other side of the situation. The sergeant retired from the department in 2008 after 30 years.
“I have the spiritual side and the law enforcement side,” Watson said.
Having a broad understanding helps the man most call “Sarge” on a daily basis.
“Kind of like an O.G.,” he said.
When lives are lost and souls are broken, it’s Watson they call in. Last week in a span of just a few hours, officers witnessed children take their final breaths.
“When you have a 3-year-old and policeman doing CPR in the back of a police car, that's not usual,” he said. “(They) did everything I could but they still died.”
His spiritual background reaches beyond the department.
“Marital issues, I get called for those,” the sergeant said. “We aren't just there for police officers, we are there for the family’s, the community and victims’ families.”
Longtime friend and pastor Larry Baylor said Watson’s calming presence helps the community heal in the worst of times.
“The main thing they need to have is hope that everything will get better,” the Pastor at Faith Miracle Temple said. “He tells them the weeping you do in the night but joy cometh in the morning.”
For the most part, it’s happy days for Watson. Watching over the department benefits everyone.
“The wellness of our officers mentally, spiritually and physically,” he said is needed to keep the community safest.