(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- During his 27 years of service at the Clearwater Police Department, William Sedrick mentored rookie officers as a field training officer. He represented the department to the public as its spokesman in the 1980s.
He taught children the values of citizenship and kindness during two years as Officer Friendly in local schools. For the past decade, he supervised officers in eastern Clearwater, where he carved out a reputation as a man devoted to his subordinates and peers.
And one of his greatest legacies was as chairman of the department's Supplemental Pension Fund, where he pushed for better pensions for his fellow officers.
Sgt. Sedrick, who was to retire Dec. 29, died in his sleep Thursday morning, four days before Christmas and eight days before retirement. Police Chief Sid Klein said he thinks the 49-year-old officer died from a heart-related problem. He said he didn't have further information about the cause of death.
"As a leader and senior officer, Bill Sedrick planted the seeds of dedication, professionalism, pride and integrity in countless younger officers," Klein said of Sgt. Sedrick, the department's second-most-senior sergeant. "Bill was known to run a tight ship," Klein said. "He demanded the best from his subordinates. And he always led by example."
Sgt. Sedrick joined the department in January 1973, then was promoted to sergeant in 1985. He was a Clearwater High School graduate and attended St. Petersburg Junior College, said police spokesman Wayne Shelor. Shelor said Sgt. Sedrick took some time off several years ago for health reasons. He later returned to work.
As a patrol sergeant for the past 10 years, Sgt. Sedrick was considered a caretaker. He expressed interest in the personal lives of those around him. If an officer needed a day off for a worthy personal reason, Sgt. Sedrick allowed it, said Lt. Bob Repp, who joined the department six months after Sgt. Sedrick.
"He was a caring individual about what went on in people's lives," Repp said. "He understood the rigors of the job and he'd try to accommodate people." Repp said all officers appreciate Sgt. Sedrick's work on the pension board. "He worked for years on that and I can assure you that many, many officers when they retire will be beholden to Bill Sedrick for vastly improving their pensions," Shelor said. Repp, who recently turned 50, said his friend's death made him consider that it may be time for him to retire himself.
"It makes one stop and pause and wonder if you're doing the right thing by sticking around," he said. But Repp said there is honor in passing away an active officer. Shelor said Sgt. Sedrick had been on vacation recently, but still had his uniform, badge and equipment. "It's still in his closet," Shelor said.
Sgt. Sedrick, who lived in Palm Harbor, was born in Pontiac, Mich. He moved to the area in the early 1960s. He is survived by his wife, Dianne; a daughter, Amy Robinson, Bradenton; a sister, Gail Reed, Miami; and a nephew, Chris Reed, Quincy, Mass.
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