TERRE HAUTE —
The supervisor of the Terre Haute Police street crimes unit is the 2014 W. Kevin Artz Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
The Breakfast Optimist Club named Sgt. Bill Sheldon with the high honor last week. Sheldon is a 34-year veteran of the police department and heads up the street crimes unit, which deals with the city’s highest crime areas, said Chief John Plasse.
After so many years on the force, many officers seek more administrative tasks, Plasse said. Not Sheldon.
“I enjoy being on the street,” he said. He’s never wanted to serve as an assistant chief or chief, he said.
Sheldon’s arrest record has been “outstanding,” said Craig Todd, president of the Breakfast Optimist Club. “We just want to honor those individuals who put their life at risk every day,” Todd said. “He was a great nominee and well deserving of this year’s award.”
Sheldon, a native of New York state who moved to Terre Haute while still in high school, said he loves Terre Haute and enjoys working with kids, especially at events such as the National Night Out.
“I cherish my time with kids,” said Sheldon. He and his wife, Judy, have three daughters and three grandchildren with a fourth on the way.
Sheldon, a 1974 Terre Haute South Vigo graduate, said the Sgt. Kevin Artz award was something he had never thought about receiving. But, he said, it’s a special honor, especially because he knew and respected the Vigo County Sheriff’s Deputy for whom it is named.
“It’s probably the most important honor I’ve won because it’s in his honor,” Sheldon said.
Artz was killed in the line of duty in 1987 at age 32 while responding to a domestic dispute in Terre Haute.
Sheldon’s work day begins at 8 p.m. – which is about when street crimes typically start. Much of what the street crimes unit does involves illegal drug activity, he said.
As for the inherent danger in the job, Sheldon said, “You get used to it. … You have to do what you have to do.”
The street crimes unit deals with some of the most serious cases, Plasse said.
Despite more than three decades at work, Sheldon still arrives at work 30 minutes early each day, Plasse said, adding that that attitude is shown by the other members of the unit.
“Billy shows no sign of slowing down,” Plasse said. “He doesn’t just come to work to collect a paycheck. He’s always actively working and doing something.”
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.