Memorial for two Daphne PD officers set for Thursday

By Jenni Vincent
Staff Writer
Posted 5/14/07

DAPHNE — The last year isn’t one that the Daphne Police Department will soon forget.

That’s because it marks the first — and only time — the department has lost two officers, said Capt. Scott Taylor.

“As far as we are aware, this …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Subscribe to continue reading. Already a subscriber? Sign in

Get the gift of local news. All subscriptions 50% off for a limited time!

You can cancel anytime.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Memorial for two Daphne PD officers set for Thursday


DAPHNE — The last year isn’t one that the Daphne Police Department will soon forget.

That’s because it marks the first — and only time — the department has lost two officers, said Capt. Scott Taylor.

“As far as we are aware, this is the only time there have been two men die who were current police officers at the time of their death,” Taylor said.

Corp. Scott Bidwell died Dec. 9, 2006, while at a professional conference in Florida.

Officer Stephen Watts died Jan. 29 in Daphne.

Their careers — and lives — will be honored tomorrow at a service that’s being held in conjunction with the city’s regular Coffee with the Mayor.

“In back-to-back months, the Daphne Police Department lost two family members,” Taylor said. “Losing them has been very difficult to overcome.

“We will never be able to replace Scott and Stephen. We can only replace their positions,” he said.

City chaplain Grant Barber will perform the memorial service, which is open to the public.

It will be held at the Daphne Recreation Department, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Family members, friends and department representatives are expected to attend the event.

Sue Morris, Bidwell’s mother-in-law, is one of those who will be in attendance, she said.

Bidwell, 38, was attending a police-related school in Miami, when he died from a grand mal seizure, she said.

Even now, it is difficult for Morris to talk about Bidwell’s death.

“But it does help to know that he was so well respected and that he did an excellent job,” Morris said.

She said Bidwell got his start in law enforcement as a correctional officer, before being promoted to a patrolman and later detective.

“He was a detective for about three or four years and then last May he was promoted to corporal of the detectives,” Morris said.

“It wasn’t just a job to him, he really loved what he did. And he especially liked trying to help the young people that he came in contact with,” she said.

Bidwell had three children: Peyton, 10; Ashton, 8; and Weston, 5.

“He had the biggest heart and I believe that was his greatest calling of all — being a father,” Morris said.

Being a public servant also extended to Bidwell’s private life, she said, adding that he was a Daphne volunteer firefighter and a diver with Daphne Search and Rescue.

He was also a former Marine and had served in Desert Storm, Morris said.

Watts’ mother, Virginia Strickland of Semmes, said she plans to attend Thursday’s service with his sister, Christina Watts.

He was found by a roommate at his apartment on Jan. 29. At that time, police reported that Watts, 29, was found with a fatal gunshot wound.

Seeing her son become a police officer was a joy because it meant so much to him, Strickland said.

“The proudest day of his life was when he was sworn into office,” she said.

His ultimate career choice was somewhat amusing since he first considered becoming a fireman, Strickland said.

He was an EMT for about 10 years prior to joining the force, she said.

Strickland credits Watts’ close friend Jason Naylor for having really gotten him interested in police work.

Right from the start, this career suited him, she said.

“He missed being first place in his class by only three points. He just always tried so very hard,” Strickland said.

Watts had been with the Daphne department about two years before his death, she said.

“He loved everyone there,” Strickland said. “Shift work didn’t bother him. He even liked working nights best, probably because there was more stuff happening then.”

Being on the police force was also good for Watts because “he was such a people person,” she said.

And they loved him back, Strickland said.

“There were so many people at his funeral that we couldn’t fit them all into the chapel; I was just stunned at the turnout,” she said.

She still runs into people who remember — and miss — her son.

“I like to think that means that everything is okay with Stephen now,” she said.

Watts’ father, Steve, said he was always proud of his son’s good heart and willingness to help others.

“He always was a special person and everyone who knew him fell in love with him,” Steve Watts said in a telephone interview from his Pavo, Ga., home.

He recalled how Stephen, who was working for an ambulance firm at the time, had called him after the World Trade Center attacks.

“Basically he was calling to say that he was going to New York to help,” Steve Watts said.

“And that’s exactly what he did, just because he felt he was needed,” he said.

It wasn’t really a surprise when Stephen became a policeman, he said.

“He was so outgoing and always loved helping people, so this was a good job for him,” Steve Watts said.

“I know he touched a lot of hearts in his line of work and that so many people will never forget him,” he said. “I know he’ll never leave me.”