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Officer survives failures to achieve dream

Monday, May 5, 2014 5:50 PM
Last updated Tuesday, May 6, 2014 2:49 AM
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EDITOR’S NOTE: This profile is part of an ongoing series on area law enforcement officers.

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RCBOE Officer Martrell Williams says working in a school environment is part of what makes her job enjoyable.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
RCBOE Officer Martrell Williams says working in a school environment is part of what makes her job enjoyable.

Two years ago, Martrell Williams almost gave up on her law enforcement dream after failing the firearms test at Augusta Technical College’s Peace Officers Training Academy.

Instead, she re-enrolled in the program and shook off her first-timer’s nerves.

Williams, 26, also could have given up after failing the emergency vehicle operators course in her second stint, but she was so close to graduating she could almost taste it.

“Academically, I never had a problem,” she said. “I always had a problem with being timed on stuff. When the targets started turning and you have to hit them in so many seconds, you’ve got to be ready for it. I kind of freaked out. I was definitely devastated.”

Fatigued and out of money after two failed attempts at the academy, the single mother said she turned to the only person she thought could help her climb the hill in front of her: Richmond County School Safety and Security Chief Alfonzo Williams, whom she knew from her time as a dispatcher for the Waynesboro Police Department during his tenure there.

After securing a scholarship, Williams returned to the academy a third time, hoping it would be the last, she said.

“I passed with flying colors,” she said. “I put in a lot of time with one of the instructors, and I excelled.”

In January 2014, Chief Williams hired her as an officer in his department. He said that her commitment to her goal caught his attention and that she serves as a model the Richmond County students can emulate.

“It shows hard work and tenacity pay off,” he said. “We believe in her. We’ve watched her grow.”

Working in a school environment is part of what makes her job enjoyable, Williams said, because she has the opportunity to guide children she sees straying from their goals.

Williams said she can especially relate to high school seniors who fail to take the classroom seriously. Williams, who attended George P. Butler High School, dropped out of school after she failed to perform academically.

“Because I played around in high school, I did not have enough credits to graduate when I was a senior,” she said. “It was either drop out and go to summer school or come back next year. I ended up dropping out.”

Using her own experiences, Williams said, she offers her support to students she sees traveling down the same path.

“If you’re doing law enforcement on the streets, you still get the same opportunity to help somebody,” she said. “These are the babies. You get to catch them before they get out there and get exposed to too much and before they get too far off track.”


AGE: 26

FAMILY: Son, Malachi, 1

LAW ENFORCEMENT EXPERIENCE: Has been an officer with the Richmond County School Safety and Security Department since January

LIFE BEFORE LAW: Williams worked briefly as a dispatcher at the Waynesboro Police Department under then-Chief Alfonzo Williams. She worked various clerical, factory and food-related jobs before enrolling in Augusta Tech’s Peace Officers Training Academy.

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willie Lee
willie Lee 05/05/14 - 06:17 pm

So we got a person that took three tries to get through the basic
Firearm training, and they give her a gun. Now what is wrong with that picture?

Gage Creed
Gage Creed 05/05/14 - 09:48 pm
Great story of

Great story of perseverance... Congratulations to Ms. Williams!

thauch12 05/05/14 - 11:29 pm

Call me Scrooge, but I'm not seeing the feel-good story here. Essentially, the Richmond County School System has hired a high school dropout who had to attend the police academy three times because she repeatedly failed. It seems much less a story about perseverance than an admittance that they have low hiring standards. I wouldn't want my child to emulate any of this...just my two cents though.

thauch12 05/05/14 - 11:30 pm


Riverman1 05/06/14 - 12:11 am
Good For Her

Scholarship and all..whatever...heh. She made it and it means little later in her career. Good for her.

Sweet son
Sweet son 05/06/14 - 01:39 pm
When I saw the headline I thought firearms.

I was exactly right. Women all too often do not do well with firearms and their management and firing. Many men too have the same problem but it can be overcome with a lot of practice firing and good coaching.

Good Luck!

corgimom 05/06/14 - 03:53 pm
Thauch, you and I agree. But

Thauch, you and I agree.

But Sweet Son, I know many women that do just fine with firearms. Like all the females in the Army, for starters, and then all the women that I know that grew up in rural areas, and learned to shoot because of that. Many people that I know ride horses, and you had better learn to shoot unless you want to lose very valuable horses to snakebite.

Did she have trouble because she was a female, or is she just one of those people who don't do well on timed tests, which has nothing to do with gender?

ctchpln 05/07/14 - 07:05 am
Sometimes there are slow starts

Sometimes there are slow starts to promising careers. I hope this is a long range career for Officer Williams. At least she kept going and didn't end up sitting around on welfare bemoaning her plight. Good for her that she didn't give up!

butterflygina 05/07/14 - 10:04 am
Congratulations Officer

Congratulations Officer Williams! I am sure your experiences are encouraging to some of the students you encounter! They also make it more likely that you will have a sincere empathy for those you deal with it. Your certificate for completion of the Officers Academy just says you passed, no mention of the number of times you attempted. YOU DID IT! Congratulations thauch12 and corgimom for always succeeding the first time in everything you've ever attempted.You two are the human manifestation of perfectness.

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