MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. - While Arab Police Sergeant Scotty Joe Watson was working on Thursday, just days after Christmas, his home burned down. He said the cause is still uncertain.
When he got a call from a loved one about his home in flames, "I immediately jumped in my patrol unit and came this way," Sgt. Watson explained.
But what Watson saw when he responded to his own house fire was a house that could not be saved. His family was safe, but almost every one of their belongings burned. He told us he didn't want anyone to be endangered by going back in to save things, but a friend was able to rescue a truck from his garage.
It was different responding to a personal emergency while on shift, he said.
"We as police officers respond to a lot of critical things in this world. So you don't know what to feel when it's your own because you just never deal with it," he stated simply.
But in doing so, he wasn't alone. Behind him in his initial response, came the rest of the Arab Police force.
"We had my shift, plus probably if it wasn't half the department, it was three-quarters of the department," Watson explained. "A lot of young guys that are starting in this business, and a lot of older guys. Well, my police family."
As for the rest of his family who lives nearby, Sgt. Watson says they're caring for him and his wife during this time. His four dogs are doing just fine, too.
And his police family is also doing what they can.
Arab Police officials say the Albertville Police Department, local churches, and community members have contributed an undisclosed amount of financial donations to the Watson family.
Anyone interested in dropping off more money can do so at the Arab Police Department at: 740 N Main St, Arab, AL 35016.
Sgt. Watson is humble, though, telling us, "We're good. We're in the graces of God. Just give us your prayers that He can guide us through this trying time and help us make the right decisions when we need to make them."
Still, he's thankful for everyone who has reached out and made an effort to help his family.
"We see a lot of bad things. Sometimes your faith in humanity drops. This seems to raise your faith in humanity," he said.
Watson came to work the day after the fire, so he said at the time of our interview that he hadn't had much time to truly process what happened. He plans to take some time to do that and to regroup about what to do next.
"It'll hit me soon enough," he said with a slight grin. When asked about how he is able to maintain such a good attitude about this, he said, "I've got the grace of God."