Illinois State Trooper honored as 48th Law Officer of the Year

ISP Trooper Brad WIlliams

Illinois State Police Trooper Brad Williams

Quincy Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Growing up, Brad Williams thought all police did was run around and capture bad guys via high-speed chases.

As he has found out since joining the Illinois State Police, the job is very different from what is portrayed on TV and in movies. High-speed chases are few and far between. But when the time called for Williams to be involved in one of those high-speed chases, he was ready.

On April 24, Williams was getting ready to work the day shift as a trooper in the Pittsfield-based District 20. He caught word that a mass murder had taken place in tiny Manchester in Scott County. Five people had been shot to death and the shooter was on loose. The shooter was considered armed and dangerous. Williams, who works his patrol on a motorcycle, jumped on his bike and took off toward the murder scene. He had been using the bike since September 2012 when he became the district’s first motorcycle patrol officer in 14 years.

“I don’t know it helped, but I don’t think it hurt though either,” Williams said of being on the bike. “I just used it to go down the back roads and got lucky and found him. It was total luck.”

Williams crossed paths with Rick O. Smith, 43, on a back road in Morgan County. Williams pulled up behind Smith, but Smith continued to elude him. The chase eventually went into Winchester. Just east of Winchester, officers were able to immobilize Smith’s vehicle. Smith got out of his vehicle with shotgun in hand and fired a round at a Winchester officer. Williams then hopped off his motorcycle and shot at Smith, killing him.

Quincy Police Department Deputy Chief Curt Kelty recounted the scene Friday at the Quincy Exchange Club’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award luncheon.

“He had to do what he had to do without any regard to his own safety,” Kelty said.

For his efforts that day, Williams was named the winner of the Exchange Club’s annual award.

“I’m very honored,” Williams said. “(The award) goes to everybody that was involved. I was just a small piece to the puzzle. There was a lot that went on afterward, too. That’s why the bosses had to do a lot more paperwork than I did.”

Five people from ages 1 through 65 died that day; the lone survivor was a 6-year-old girl.

“I think about (the day) all the time,” Williams said. “I think about the one survivor. She is the real hero in all of this. Her life changed more than any of ours did through all of this that morning. I hear she is doing well.”

Williams has been with the State Police since June 2007.

This is the 48th annual award issued by the Exchange Club since it started doing so in 1967. The Exchange Club also honored its Citizen of the Year. Mayor Kyle Moore recognized Pam Shaffer for her long tenure with the American Red Cross. She recently retired after 34 years of service with the organization.

“We couldn’t do this without the help of more than 400 volunteers, they are the ones that I’m accepting this award for,” Shaffer said.

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