Editorial: Leaving it better than he found it

May. 30, 2013 @ 04:06 PM

Keith Sidwell departs Henderson today as the retiring chief of police. As he exits, we commend him for the work of his department, and for leaving us in a better position than when he arrived in January 2007.

Finding the right leader for such a vital part of the city was not easy. Sidwell came to us with 25 years experience in Virginia, and was leaving the command of more than 180 sworn officers when he made that first retirement to work for us.

But semi-retirement this was not.

It is a smaller community with smaller staff, but not a smaller commitment. For that would not be Chief Sidwell.

This newspaper and the police chief have not always seen eye to eye. Many in the community have not as well. But when it comes to doing a job of importance and doing it well, simply making everyone happy won’t suffice.

Sworn to protect and serve Henderson and all who are here, whether residents or visiting, Sidwell did so with honor. He showed courage against critics, he tactically made gains against the criminal element through initiatives, and he was unfailingly efficient as one of the city’s departmental managers.

No police chief, or any law enforcement agent or any person period, can by themselves stop bad people intent on doing bad things.

Higher profile examples may be in Newtown, Boston and Aurora, but we have our own examples on streets like Williams, Walters and the corner of Nicholas and Davis — the scenes of shooting deaths of teens ages 14, 16 and 17 in an eight-month period.

Stopping those tragedies is multi-fold, something Sidwell accepted and attacked long before any happened. Society plays the largest role, and families and communities must also accept their part. Sidwell championed community policing strategy. He effectively partnered with lawmakers against habitual criminals, and worked in tandem with federal agencies removing violent criminals.

Perfect he was not. Spotlights he did not seek. He said public speaking wasn’t his thing, yet when he spoke, meaning and purpose were never more evident.

We’ll miss that.

For leaving Henderson a better place than he found it, we say “Thanks.” And we wish him the best.