Flags flew at half-mast outside of the Covington Police Department station yesterday, marking the loss of one of Covington's finest.
Capt. Billy Joe "B.J." Hewell, a Newton County native and 30-year-veteran of the department passed away Aug. 6 at Newton Medical center at the age of 58.
Hewell worked in many capacities throughout his career before he retired with health problems in 2006, including overseeing the patrol division, investigations, community outreach committee, being a hostage negotiator on the S.W.A.T. team and serving as interim director of the Covington-Newton County 911 Communications Center.
Co-workers described him as a "good leader, good supervisor, good friend," and a man devoted to his family.
"There's a lot of guys with heavy hearts around the station today," said Lt. Wendell Wagstaff, who worked under him as a rookie in the patrol division. "He was a very special guy."
Chief Stacey Cotton remembered Hewell as the captain he served under when he first started. "He was the kind of guy you wanted to work for. He didn't have to ask you to do it, you wanted to do it for him," said Cotton. "He would listen to you, listen to your problems and motivate you. He was a big influence on my management style."
Wagstaff described an incident where he was backing up Hewell in stopping two armed robbers on U.S. Interstate 20 that had just robbed a convenience store.
"But he let me take the credit for it and made me feel like I was doing something out there," said Wagstaff. "I'll never forget that."
Capt. Craig Treadwell also worked under Hewell as a young lieutenant and said Hewell was a great influence on his own 25-year career.
"He taught me so much about supervising people, dealing with people and working with citizens," said Treadwell, adding that Hewell led by example.
"If any issue came up, he always let me handle it the way I thought I should handle it. He never did my job for me and always let me learn and do things on my own," he said. "It gave me a lot of confidence."
Treadwell also described his lively sense of humor.
"He was a prankster from the get-go," he said, describing jokes such as putting Vaseline on the windshield of a personal car. "But you'd never find out who played the joke on you."
As a supervisor, Hewell would always take the time to ask about his officers' personal lives, Wagstaff said. Cotton added, "B.J. could always find the good in people. He was never judgmental, a good hearted person."
Hewell spent the time after his retirement with his children, grandchildren and family. He loved his wife and daughters and his world revolved around them, said Treadwell.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Joan Hewell, and brother, Fred L. Hewell, Jr.
The family will receive friends from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at Caldwell & Cowan's Floyd Street location.
The funeral will be held on at 2 p.m. Aug 9 at the Caldwell & Cowan Floyd Street chapel. A Covington Police Department honor guard will be at his wake and funeral, as well as lead a processional through the town.