Lieutenant Will Hutt is retiring from the Homer Police Department after serving the community for twenty-four years. He started in Homer in 1994 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2013. His last day on the job is just about a month away.
Lieutenant Will Hutt is cleaning his office. It’s full of things he’s collected over the years.
"I don't know; I've got a lot of junk," he said opening a metal drawer.
There’s paperwork of course, but there’s also his original set of airborne wings from his army days enshrined in a plaque, a toy model of the station’s old patrol car and pictures of his family.
"I don't know where to begin," he said looking at his office. "Really, I've been whittling away at it the last couple of days. Sometimes I stop and it takes me back to an event or an incident, and I'm like I got to keep going. I got to get through all this stuff."
Hutt was in the U.S. army and worked as a statewide undercover narcotics officer before joining the Homer Police department.
He’s worked many jobs in the station since then: he was a graveyard patrol man, investigator, and middle-management-patrol sergeant.
“It’s been a great career—a lot of highs and a lot of lows,” he said as he teared up.
Hutt is retiring now partly because his mother recently died and he wants to spend some time with his family in the Midwest. But he’s also leaving to take care of his health. He says the cumulative stress of working in law enforcement has worn him down over time.
“I've seen too many dead bodies, too many unintended deaths, too many crashes,” he said.
He said the worst day was a shooting at the Homer airport in 2006 when Homer Police, U.S. Marshals and Alaska State Troopers attempted to arrest a drug felon named Jason Anderson from Minnesota. The Marshals and police cornered him at the airport and Anderson, who had his children in the back seat, took out his gun and fired. Anderson shot his son in the head. His son survived but had permanent brain damage. Anderson, himself, did not make it out of the shooting alive.
“I know that he was a father and a son and when he laid there with agonal breathing, I said a prayer for his soul,” he said. “It was not fun. It's kind of hard to explain unless you've been there. And there was a lot of fallout with the community after that. There was a lot of supporters but there was a lot of fallout.”
Hutt got through difficult times like that with support from his co-workers whom he calls his second family. Throughout his years on the force, he’s enjoyed seeing Homer residents grow out of bad habits and he said the simple everyday tasks of the job were fulfilling. Hutt recounts how good it felt returning a lost dog to a visitor.
"It was nice seeing somebody reunited with their pet like that," he said. "It's kind of simple but you know we're all human, and we put our pants on the same way."
He said his work probably affected more people than he knows.
“Little things that did probably mean absolutely nothing to me or that I forgot but I'm sure I probably impacted a lot of people, more than I realize," he said.
Hutt’s last day will be on May 1, and he plans to remain in town.