Kentucky State Trooper Seth Willis, of Milton, was recently named the 2008 Post 5 Trooper of the Year. However, there is more to the man than the badge.
Willis said there are essentially four squads within Post 5. The sergeant of each squad chose a trooper and then all of the command staff decided between the four final candidates.
“I was kind of shocked at first. It was kind of humbling, I mean there are other guys that have been working for a long time and guys that I look up to and I was selected,” Willis said.
Trooper of the Year is more than just a title, it is a responsibility. Willis will essentially serve as a representative of the post during the upcoming year.
“I knew that through at least our agency, it was going to be well-known,” Willis said. “Guys that are older and younger than me are going to be watching what I’m doing.”
Willis currently serves as the community relations and public relations officer, acting as the liaison between the law enforcement community and the society they serve, he said. Willis deals directly with the press to inform the public about anything that they would be interested in or need to know about, such as fatalities or large crimes.
But there is more to Willis than the badge. Off duty, Willis enjoys exercising, seeing movies with his wife of two years and reading about religion, philosophy, war and history.
“I’m not necessarily the highest activity guy at our post, but I’ve done a lot of things in the community,” he said. “I’m actually about to go on a mission trip to Peru with my church.”
Willis attends and serves as a deacon at Rykers Ridge Baptist Church in Madison, Ind. Besides family and friends, his faith and church are the most important things in his life, he said. Willis also mentors a young man through church.
“I realized it was something people need. It’s good to not necessarily teach somebody, but help them along if you’ve already been there,” he said. “You learn from your own mistakes, so why not learn from other people’s mistakes to avoid making them. Maybe it will keep me young.”
Willis grew up on a farm in Trimble County and his upbringing continues to influence him.
“It’s easy to associate with a lot of people that we work with because this is a fairly rural community, definitely a farming community,” he said. “A bigger benefit is an appreciation for hard work, even if it is physical work.”
Other influences include his father and late grandfather.
“My grandpa especially was a very interesting character,” he said. “He was just an-all around kind of guy you wouldn’t expect a farmer in overalls to be what he was; he taught me a lot. He was a very intelligent man and very giving to people.”
Willis, however, did not grow up wanting to be a farmer. He was interested in being a state trooper, he said.
“My uncle was the sheriff of the county I grew up in,” he said. “I was fascinated by the lights and a lot of the simple stuff, but also the interaction and getting to help the people and the excitement of it all.”
He attended Indiana Wesleyan University and received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2003. Thus far, he finds life as a trooper fascinating and a pleasant surprise, he said.
“I like the ability to be versatile. I come out and each day is different - tomorrow and the next day won’t be the same,” he said. “We go out and fight the same battle everyday and there’s always something new, but at the same time we see progress.”
Willis was honored at the Kentucky State Police Awards Ceremony on May 8 at the University of Louisville.
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