CPD detective fights crime, spreads faith


Chynna Miller

Detective Marlon Williams offers people to come pray at the alter at Mount Olive Baptist Church on Feb. 8. Williams serves as both a detective for the Charleston Police Department and as a Deacon at the church.

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Every morning at 6:30 a.m., Marlon Williams, a detective for the Charleston Police Department, wakes up and reads a scripture in the Bible before going into work.

He also posts an inspiring passage on his Facebook, because not only is Williams a police officer, but a Baptist Minister as well.

Williams, a 43-year-old bald and clean-cut African-American, sits at his desk wearing black half-framed glasses. His shirt, a lavender button-up with a matching tie with silver diamond shapes, rests over his large but muscular build. He is in his element, relaxed and calm, behind him, a framed prayer for cops.

“By the age of 12, I decided I was going to be a police officer,” Williams said.

When he was a child, his grandmother used to watch every cop show on television and he would them watch with her.

Williams watched so many cop shows with his grandmother, he joked with the men at the Charleston Police Department that he knew all the theme songs from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

He knew he made the right choice once he buttoned up his uniform and started taking calls.

“Of course, you have your challenging moments, but that’s at any job,” Williams said sternly.

For Williams, that challenging moment came 10 years ago when he was a rookie in pursuit of a teenager on a humid night. His radio was not receiving transmission to or from the station, preventing him from calling for assistance.

“There were times you would call out and someone wouldn’t hear you,” Williams said.

At the time of the incident, he was a rookie officer patrolling in Neoga; this was the first time he was out on his own and working nights. Williams knew of a teenager who had a tendency to fight officers and had some warrants for his arrest, so he went looking for him.

“He’s on foot and he basically walked past my squad car; he walks past and looks back and he sees me in the car—he takes off on foot,” Williams said.

When he left his car and finally caught up to the culprit to explain his arrest warrants, the man began to resist his arrest, starting a fight with the 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound Williams.

“While I’m fighting, I’m still calling into the radio and no one is hearing me because my portable has malfunctioned.”

Just as Williams got the man to the ground, a worker for the city of Neoga passed by and began to assist him with the arrest. Williams even pepper-sprayed the culprit during the tousle, and as he finally got the man handcuffed, he then threatened Williams.

“‘I’m going to kill you, n****r,’” Williams remembered the man said.

Williams said the chief of police heard his radio traffic from the vehicle.

One month later, Williams was in a preliminary hearing where the criminal stopped the court to ask if he could say a few words.

Williams said the man told the judge he wanted to apologize for what he said. The man was charged with threatening a public official and sent to prison for resisting arrest.

“Every time I see that guy on the street after that point, he would always stop me and continue to apologize every single time,” he said.

Williams remembered the chief of police had told the Neoga City Council prior to the scuffle about the radio transmission problems.

“‘What’s going to happen is, one of my guys are going to get hurt because they can’t get help’—that night, it happened so we got new radios and Tasers,” Williams said.

Williams said he believes the reason the man apologized so suddenly to him for his actions was because Williams told the man that he forgave him.

“He just got quiet,” Williams said. “My parents/grandparents always told me never underestimate the power of forgiveness.”

Williams said if he could forgive someone in that instance, he has grown spiritually closer to his faith as a Christian who was already a deacon at his church.

People he knew were telling him he was going to become a preacher, but he did not believe them; however, Williams said there was a moment when he had a “calling.”

Williams was working in a factory during the time he was a deacon, and suddenly the lights in the factory began to go down as if coming to a halt.

“It seemed like everything stopped around me and when I looked ahead, there was this bright light ahead of me and inside this light, I’m standing at the pulpit preaching,” Williams said.

“I’m watching myself preach and I’m just trippin’ like, ‘What is going on here?’” he said.

Once the vision was over, Williams said time seemed to pick up where it left off, continuing with him shocked at what he just witnessed. He spoke to his pastor at the time, unsure of what to do, and he said he was stubborn for a while before finally accepting the call.

He is currently a minister at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Champaign.

“If I’m here, I always have the minister on standby; if I’m at church, I got the officer on standby,” Williams said. “(I’m) always on duty one way or another.”

At times Williams has been writing a police report while answering a text message for prayer or advice from someone.

Because violence in churches has become more prevalent, he said he is usually in “detective mode” watching the crowd to make sure nothing happens. He said instances where outsiders have shot pastors and fights breaking out in church are some of the reasons for his watchful eye on church grounds.

“I sometimes carry my firearm in the pulpit because of that,” he said.

Williams said he does have interest in running his own church someday, but he is unsure of when he will do that.

Keith Thomas, the pastor at Mount Olive, said Williams has an ability to appeal to mutual backgrounds of people and form connections.

“He’s more (of) a people person and he still has the youthful effects,” Thomas said.

Thomas said when Williams shares his future ideas for life and his hopes of becoming a pastor, he has a passion for everything he says. Thomas said Williams is truly speaking from the heart and wants to serve others.

Thomas said his goal as Williams’ pastor is to help teach him and guide him down that path assisting Williams in any way he can.

“You innately have to have it and he’s got it.” Thomas said, “He’s going to do well.”

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].