Williams enjoying semi-retirement
SPRUCE PINE – The back of the program commemorating former North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Van Williams’ retirement features a photo of him on a boat holding a fish.
It could be said the photo was a sign of things to come.
Williams, 51, of Spruce Pine, retired this past January from the SBI after nearly 15 years of serving as a crime scene specialist for the 16 counties comprising SBI’s Western District.
Williams graduated from Mitchell High School in 1986 and in 1989 began his career in law enforcement as a police officer in Valdese.
After eight months in Valdese, he accepted a position with the Spruce Pine Police Department.
During his 14 years with the SPPD, he was eventually made chief detective and worked numerous cases alongside Alan Flora, an SBI arson agent in the Western District.
Flora urged Williams to apply for a position with the SBI, but he didn’t have a four-year degree.
The next step for Williams was enrolling in Western Carolina University’s online degree program, from which he received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2004 and was hired by the SBI that same year.
Williams’ first case as a member of the SBI was a drug- and gang-related triple homicide in Statesville.
He had reached the big stage.
“This was bigger than what we ever did in Spruce Pine,” he said. “I could see what I was getting into – a rude awakening. I was not in the little mountain community anymore.”
During his time with the SBI, Williams graduated from the 38th National Forensic Academy in Tennessee in 2015 and served as an in-service training coordinator for the law enforcement at Mayland Community College’s Spruce Pine Campus.
“It went by really quickly,” Williams said about his time with the SBI. “It was by far the best job I’ve had in law enforcement.”
Every year while working with the SBI, Williams staffed the SBI booth at the State Fair in Raleigh. When he isn’t busy with everything else on his plate, he owns and operates Attention to Detail, a car-cleaning business in Spruce Pine.
After retiring from the SBI this past January, Williams had some time to go fishing, but not long after, it was back to work.
Williams got back into law enforcement after his retirement from the SBI by accepting a position as a detective at the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office in June 2018.
“I had to do something,” Williams said. “There isn’t a lot else I’ve ever done, so it was the way things worked out. They sat down and talked to me, and I figured I’d try it.”
Williams said working in McDowell keeps him busy, and he looks back fondly on the path that brought him close to home.
“It’s been an adjustment,” Williams said. “You stay covered up here, but it’s different types of crimes.”