Retired police chief dies at 89; remembered as kind but cantankerous

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Dothan (WTVY)-- Retired Dothan Police Chief Kater Williams will be remembered for his charismatic personality and contributions to law enforcement. Williams, 89, died Monday after suffering declining health.

“He was a real police chief who cared about his officers and stood by them through thick and thin,” said Gary Kinney. Even though he retired from the Dothan Police Department about 30 years ago, Kinney and Williams remained close.

When Williams arrived in 1974 he had already spent a couple of decades in Mobile where he retired as a captain. He remained chief in Dothan until 1990, then accepting a state job in Governor Guy Hunt's administration.

Williams tenure was the second longest in the city's history and John White's tenure as chief the third longest. White swears he would not have reached such career heights had not Williams molded him.

“He taught me not to sweat the small stuff and treat citizens of Dothan and fellow police officers like family. We policed much the same way,” White said.

In Dothan, Williams took over a small town police force and quickly transformed it into a model law enforcement agency.

However, he could be tough and cantankerous. His love, hate relationship with the media is legendary. When he became angered at a reporter in his office he would often toss a pencil at them.

He was tough on officers, as well. “He actually came to town about three weeks before he began working and sized up the department. I remember he called us into the old courtroom and said “I have one rule and that's I'm the police chief. If you have further questions, revert to that rule,” Kinney chuckled.

About two years before Williams retired, he realized his dream of new, modern police headquarters. The current location on North Saint Andrews Street is named in his honor.

“I'll always remember Chief Williams as a great police chief but more than than I'll remember as a great friend. I'll miss him a lot” White said.