NEW CUMBERLAND - Hancock County sheriff's Sgt. Art Watson hasn't always been a big guy, but he's always wanted to be a police officer.
From about the time he graduated from Oak Glen High School in 1977, "it was a career that seemed intriguing to me," he said.
Watson, who can now look back on a 28-year career, recently was recognized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars as West Virginia Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. "This is by far the biggest honor that I have received," he said.
Hancock County sheriff’s Sgt. Art Watson (right) shows his state awards from the Veterans of Foreign Wars with the help of Sheriff Mike White. (Photo by Stephen Huba)
Watson, 52, of New Cumberland, is the first officer from Hancock County to receive the statewide award. He qualified by first being named VFW District 1 Officer of the Year by District 1 Commander Robert Kish and Chester VFW Post 6450 Commander Dave Ash in January. District 1 covers the area from Hancock County to Wetzel County.
Watson received the statewide award on June 16 at the West Virginia VFW State Convention in Huntington.
Watson got his start in law enforcement in 1983 when he took the civil service test for Moundsville. He also served as chief deputy for Marshall County and Wetzel County. He has been with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department for 10 years.
"His investigative skills are outstanding," Hancock County Sheriff Mike White said. "He handles all our major crimes." Watson is recognized as a crime scene expert and fingerprint expert.
Watson said he felt honored to receive an award from the VFW, whose members "truly exemplify the meaning of 'to protect and serve.' "
Watson said he enjoys being able to serve others in his capacity as a law enforcement officer.
"The satisfaction and fulfillment comes when you have a difficult case and you're able to solve it and provide closure for the family," he said. "There's a lot of satisfaction in being able to close a case - and being able to help people in general."
Watson's name now can be placed in contention for the VFW's national Officer of the Year award.