Born and raised in Chicago, Captain Bill Richards, commander of the Tucson Police Unit's Crimes Against Persons Unit, initially joined the Chicago Fire Department after college. "I spent four years there before I realized that it was a bit too cold to play with water in the wintertime," says Richards. He and his wife then migrated to Tucson where he joined the police force in 1984.
Richards spent three years as a homicide detective and looks back on the experience fondly. "There is no more important job in the police department than effectively removing from polite society people who will hurt children, women and senselessly take the life of another."
Richards is married with three kids, one of whom is planning to follow in her father's footsteps. He credits his wife with always supporting him and says, "I promised her a world cruise after I retire in payment for all the dinners I've missed and movies we've had to leave and phone calls she's had to hear me conduct at 3 o'clock in the morning." In his spare time, Richards paints cars, and is currently working on a Mercedes SL500.
Born and raised in Tucson, Lieutenant Rick Wilson, commander of the Tucson Police Units Violent Crimes Section, has been on the force for 24 years. He credits his cousin, a police officer in Tucson, as his inspiration for joining. "I started doing some ride-alongs with him and I kind of caught the bug. I realized that's what I wanted to do. And that's what I've been doing ever since."
Since joining the police force in 1984, Wilson has worked in many departments, including burglary, the bravo unit, and internal affairs. He also spent some time undercover working with street level narcotics. "It's a great career. It's a noble career. It's an honorable career," he says. "The department has been very, very good to me and my family."
Wilson holds all of his colleagues in very high regard. "They're very driven. They're very dedicated. And I'm very impressed with that." He adds, "They're just flat out dedicated 100 percent to the job that they're doing. And that's really nice to work around."
Wilson explains the difficulties that come with working homicide. "We obviously have compassion for our victims and our victims' families. They've just lost loved ones. And you do feel for them. You really do. But you have to keep in mind that you have a job to do. And you can't internalize these [cases] so much that it starts affecting your job. If you do you'll never survive a career."
Wilson is a family man. He says, "I'm very lucky. I've been married for 23 years to my high school sweetheart. I've got two beautiful daughters. I feel blessed every day."
Born in Southern California, Sgt. Kevin Hall didn't always have aspirations of joining the Police Department. He explains, "I think I was one of the few kids who did not want to be a police officer. It wasn't until I joined the Air Force and I was in law enforcement in the Air Force that it kind of grew on me. I decided it might be a career track for me." Hall enrolled in the University of California, where he was a double major in psychology and sociology. His degrees have come in handy. "Sociology is the study of groups - group behavior. It's fascinating to see, particularly as a detective, the norms and values are different within each little subculture. I found it enormously useful."
Hall has been in the police department for sixteen years, and has spent the past three as the supervisor of the homicide unit. Prior to joining homicide, he worked in the gang unit, internal affairs, and as a S.W.A.T. officer. Hall especially enjoyed his time with S.W.A.T. and says, "I enjoyed working with people who are amazingly disciplined, who knew what they were doing and who you literally trusted with your life."
In homicide, Halls says, "The most important skill is interviewing. The bread and butter of any detective, and particularly in homicide, is your ability to talk to people, elicit information from them, make them feel comfortable enough to tell you that they killed somebody. That's an incredible skill."
Hall credits his family with being there for him through the long hours that come with law enforcement. He says, "I have a very wonderful wife named Karen. She has been enormously supportive of me throughout my career. I have four children - ranging in age from 23 down to 11. They also have been very understanding. I have missed birthdays. I have missed a couple of Christmases. I can't count the number of soccer games or school plays and that sort of thing that I've missed." He adds, "They've been very much on my side and they enjoy the time we spend together."
In his spare time, Hall enjoys traveling, and has been to Europe and Australia. When he retires, he plans to visit New Zealand, Japan and China.
Detective Mike Carroll was born in Santa Maria, California. After spending time in the U.S. Navy, Carroll studied sociology and began thinking about where his career was headed. "I never thought at the beginning I was going to be in law enforcement. It wasn't this long life-term dream of mine. But after I got out of college I thought about law enforcement and making a difference."
Carroll has been on the force for 13 years. He started as a patrol officer and then as a high school liaison officer. Carroll also worked in the gang unit before joining the more challenging homicide unit. "In Homicide, the family is calling you, asking you, even pleading with you, and begging with you to make sure you don't give up on the case." He adds, "Everyone says they like the adrenaline rush - catching a criminal, going after somebody. But I've never heard someone say they like the pressure."
In his spare time, Carroll enjoys running and golfing and playing the stock market.
Born and raised in Chicago, Det. Bill Hanson describes himself as the "black sheep of the family." "My dad was a fireman," he explains. "I was supposed to be a fireman." Instead, he became a police officer. He made this life changing decision at the age of 5, when his father gave him a Dick Tracy cap gun. "From that point on," Hanson says, "I knew I was going to be a cop."
Hanson did ten years of active duty in the Air Force and twelve years in the Air Guard. While there, he took an interest in law enforcement. Hanson started out as a deputy sheriff in Mojave County before coming to Tucson in 1993. Before joining homicide in 2005, Hanson worked in burglary taskforce, AG assault, and the Bravo Unit.
Hanson says of the homicide department, "We speak for the dead. You speak for your victim, because nobody else is gonna be able to do it."
Hanson and his wife Laura have five children. "None of them are in law enforcement," he says, "but one's a firefighter." He adds, "I've got two little grandsons that I think are going to be sports stars. I don't think they're going to be either firemen or policemen." Hanson acknowledges the important role his family plays in his career. "In my case, I have a good wife. She's very supportive. And she knows what the job entails, and she's always been very supportive of it and so has the family."
Hanson has been weightlifting since his military days and has participated in the Police and Fire Olympics. He is also working on a series of children's books. "I don't have anything in print yet, but what I want to do is take the money from that and give it to children's charities."
Born in Long Island, New York, Detective Kathi Kelley came to Tucson when she was 14. Police work runs in her family. Her father was a lieutenant in New York. One of her brothers works in the local Sheriff's Department, and the other is a homicide detective in Suffolk County, New York. "My dad pinned my badge on me when I graduated from the academy," Kelley says, "so I think they were very supportive."
Kelley joined the Tucson Police Unit in 1986. She worked burglary and adult sex crimes before making the jump to homicide five years ago. "Homicide is my- favorite detail. It's the most interesting that I've worked so far. It's just pretty much the ultimate detail." Kelley finds her work rewarding, especially when she can tell the victim's family that a suspect has been apprehended. "It doesn't bring their loved one back, but it is satisfying to know that you've caught the person. And they'll hopefully have justice served."
Kelley, who has the most tenure in her unit, explains her attitude when it comes to solving cases. "We diligently work the cases. I know sometimes people think that we're going to give up. And as far as I'm concerned, I never give up."
Married to a retired police officer, Scott, Kelley has what she describes as a "full family." She has two children, as well as two stepchildren, and four grandchildren. In her spare time she enjoys running.
Born and raised in Tucson, Detective Tom Stewart originally wanted to be a mechanical engineer, but law enforcement runs in his family. He explains, "My dad was a policeman here. He retired as a sergeant and his father was a border patrolman." In his younger days, Stewart says he saw law enforcement as an adrenaline rush, but now he describes it as "a job worth doing."
Stewart joined the police force in 1990 and was quickly asked to join the gang unit. He has been working with the homicide unit for over a month and enjoys the team effort. He says, "People understand that if you collectively work together, you get more done. You learn that homicide's supposed to be the A team, the varsity, the creme de la creme."
Stewart is married with two daughters. He recently became a grandfather. In his spare time he enjoys playing baseball and golf.
Detective Jennifer Whitfield, a Tucson native and University of Arizona alum, joined the Tucson Police Department in 1997. Before coming to homicide, she worked in a variety of units including Narcotics, the Meth Lab Unit, Sex Crimes Unit and as an undercover officer. While working undercover, Whitfield would disguise herself as a drug buyer or a prostitution decoy. "I have the record," she says. "I arrested three guys at the same time. I think it still holds."
Whitfield joined the homicide unit in 2006. With an affinity for the color pink and a tiara decorating her desk, fellow officers have nicknamed Whitfield 'The Pink Princess.' She had always aspired to be a detective in a violent crimes unit, and finds the work to be both challenging and rewarding.
Whitfield is married to a former SWAT officer, Judd Whitfield. She describes her two Chihuahuas, Buddy and Buster, as her children and says, "They're the cutest Chihuahuas on the face of the planet." She enjoys traveling and shopping.