Retired Capt. Billy Joe Haley, who served many years with the Clarksdale Police Department and Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office, was remembered fondly by friends and colleagues following his death Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the age of 53.
The Coahoma County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution honoring Haley during Monday’s meeting.
Sheriff Charles Jones worked with Haley at the Clarksdale Police Department from 1994-2001. Jones left the CPD in 2001. Haley began working for the sheriff’s office under Jones in 2010.
“He was selfless and I patterned my career off law enforcement officers like him,” Jones said. “When I became sheriff, he came to work for me and, even though he was my training offer, he followed and shared my vision. He was proud of my accomplishments and bragged to people about being my training officer. Captain Haley taught me law enforcement accountability and how to respect and earn respect from others.”
Jason Sims Jr. worked with Haley at the CPD from January 2006 until Haley went to work for the sheriff’s office.
“Very sad news,” Sims said via a Facebook post the day Haley died. “Retired Captain Billy Joe Haley died today. He was my first-shift commander when I went to work in Clarksdale. He was a true leader. He loved his police family.
"I remember when he sent me to his house to take a nap because I was in court all day and we had to work that night. He answered my calls while I rested. I remember when we had to make entry into a house with a known armed subject inside. He insisted on working the shield (first man in). I remember when we received fire and the rounds struck the shield CPT Haley was holding. I remember his calm demeanor when he stated "standby, he shot my shield" in the slowest, countriest tone I've ever heard. He quickly took action and probably saved every member of the team that was behind him.
"I could go on and on with stories about Captain Billy Joe Haley. He was a great man and fabulous leader. RIP my brother. We love and will miss you. Thanks for your service CPT. (SALUTE)”
Wayne Rybolt was Haley’s best friend and the two were roommates for eight years.
“I was sick,” Rybolt said of a time in December 2013. “I was in the hospital for about six and a half months, Billy Joe helped me with my recovery.”
When Haley was a security officer at Ground Zero Blues Club, he would check on Rybolt after work and make sure did not get off the couch.
“He picked me up, put me in the wheelchair and took me to doctors offices for awhile,” Rybolt said. “When I got out, I had to learn how to re-walk and everything. He was like a brother to me. You aren’t going to find anybody else that would do that."
Rybolt said he and Haley had one disagreement in eight years.
Haley helped Rybolt’s daughter, Camille, with history. That came when Camille was living with Rybolt and Haley.
“Whenever he talked to kids, he was big in history,” Rybolt said. “He was a big influence on kids, talking to them about history.”
Steve Kolbus’ band “Steve Kolbus and the Clarksdale Blues Revue” has played at Ground Zero Blues Club on many occasions. That was how Kolbus got to know Haley.
“Everybody that played there on a regular basis knew and really liked Billy Joe,” Kolbus said. “He was always very personable and welcoming to all of the guests that came to the club and he was always very supportive and encouraging to all of the musicians that played there.”
Kolbus knew Haley for more than 10 years.
“He was a really loyal friend. He was always quick to stick up for his friends when they were in a really sticky situation,” Kolbus said. “He was probably one of the nicest guys I have ever known.”