Hero Down: Lowndes County Constable Willie 'Hoot' West Dies After On-Duty Crash
Tupelo, MS – Mississippi Precinct 1 Lowndes County Constable Willie Houston “Hoot” West died in the line of duty on May 9, three days after his vehicle crashed into a tree while he was out serving civil papers.
The crash occurred just before 8 a.m., as the 81-year-old constable was traveling on Harrison Road, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
He was rushed to the North Mississippi Medical Center, where he remained until his death.
Constable West’s astonishing 57-year law enforcement career began in 1962, when he was hired as a deputy for the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), his son, Mike, told The Dispatch.
In November of 1967, he was elected as the District 1 Constable, and was serving his 13th consecutive term at the time of his death.
“[He] became a legend,” Mike said.
Constable West helped found the Mississippi Constable Association, and served as its first president, according to his obituary.
"A lot of people told me that dad was good to them," his daughter, Debra Edmondson, told The Dispatch. "He would give people a fair shake. People would tell me, 'You know, your dad could have done this or that, but he worked with me and we worked it out.'"
Constable West was fair, but tough, according to his son.
“I think dad gave everybody a fair shake,” he agreed. “But wen he told you to do something, he meant it.”
During his nearly six-decade career, Constable West was both stabbed and shot, but never soured on his mission to protect and serve.
"Right up to the end, he could handle himself," Mike said of his father. "He was always laughing. He loved being out driving around, visiting with people. It was the perfect job for him. In the end, he had a lot more friends than enemies."
"Hoot always referred to all citizens – family, friends, even foes alike – as 'my people,'" Caledonia Mayor Mitch Wiggins told The Dispatch. "He looked out for people. He believed his job was a calling and has already served faithfully anytime, day or night."
The community rallied around Constable West and his family while he was hospitalized after the collision, and the support continued after he succumbed to his injuries.
"Somebody said it was like Mayberry losing Andy Taylor," Mike recalled. "I can see why they would think of Dad kind of like that."
Constable West leaves behind his daughters, Debbie and Paula, his son, Michael, and his mother, Eillie, according to his obituary.
He is also survived by his two sisters, his brother, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren.
Constable West was laid to rest on Sunday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mississippi Precinct 1 Lowndes County Constable Willie Houston “Hoot” West, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.