Officer Shawn Westfall of the Columbia Police Department retired Tuesday after 31 years of service, with 25 of those spent in Columbia.
A ceremony was held May 13 at the CPD headquarters, where friends, family, colleagues and city officials came to recognize Westfall for his service to the community.
Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson and Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul presented Westfall with a service plaque and other farewell gifts from the city and police department.
Westfall said he will “miss working with fellow officers who always have my back.” But it was Westfall who had a fellow officer’s back near the beginning of his CPD service in 1995.
Westfall and then-officer Paul responded to a violent domestic disturbance call at a residence on a street with no outlet. When they arrived, the suspect, who was under the influence of PCP, intentionally rammed a parked car at a high speed and began pursuing the police vehicles, prompting Paul to maneuver his squad car to block the suspect from exiting the dead-end street. Paul’s vehicle became snared in equipment from electric utility work and the suspect then drove his vehicle into the driver’s side of Paul’s car, causing major damage and trapping Paul inside.
At that point, Westfall positioned his vehicle behind the subject to prevent him from striking Paul’s car again and moved in a position to pepper spray and then tackle the subject, allowing Paul to exit through the windshield area of his patrol car.
According to Paul, he and Westfall spent the next five minutes subduing the 6-foot-5, 250-pound subject.
“It was a good thing that we got to go home after that,” Westfall recalled.
Paul echoed his sentiment, saying that “God was watching over both of us.”
Paul referred to the incident during the ceremony last Wednesday, telling the audience that he “might not be here” if not for Westfall, adding “I love you, brother” before embracing the retiring officer.
Also during his career, Westfall was recognized by the Columbia Fire Department for his help evacuating residents during a fire in the Columbia Lakes subdivision.
“He deserves more pomp and circumstance,” Hutchinson said of Westfall, who would have been recognized during a Columbia City Council meeting but current COVID-19 restrictions prevented the ceremony. Hutchinson said he hopes to honor Westfall more formally once socially distancing policies are relaxed.
“I would like to thank the city for the opportunity to serve and allowing me to make a career in Columbia,” Westfall said, adding that he misses “all the people we’ve lost” during his tenure and he will miss “helping citizens and being their protector.”
Westfall began his service in August 1989 in Brighton before transferring to Columbia.
“We will miss him dearly,” Paul said. “With his 25 years of experience (in Columbia), we won’t be able to hire anyone who could replace that.”