NEW ORLEANS - The legacy of a former New Orleans police officer lives on with the dedication Saturday of the NOPD’s 8th District substation in his honor.
To understand the signficance of the police substation located on St. Claude Ave. inside the Healing Center, you have to know the man it's named after: Detective Robert Williams.
Williams spent 10 years fighting crime in the 8th District, but a battle with cancer took his life in 2007. Before he died, he had one last fight that changed how the city took care of its own. His struggle was highlighted in a series of WWL-TV reports.
On Saturday, his wife Debbie remembered a man determined to serve.
"On this very special day, I know Rob's legacy will live on, not only in the policy changes but also in the permanent remembrance of his service,” she said.
When Detective Williams was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, just after he and his wife were married, he found out his city health insurance would not cover what was called "catastrophic illness.” He endured rounds of chemotherapy and bureaucracy but never gave up.
"When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Robert refused to evacuate, even though he was undergoing chemotherapy, he stayed and assisted the city he loved,” his wife said.
As he fought the cancer, he launched a fight to get all city workers better coverage. He lost his life, but won the battle for change.
“Together we worked to have this policy changed, and today because of Robert's brave efforts, every employee of the City of New Orleans has health insurance coverage for catastrophic illness," Debbie Williams said.
Through a memorial fund that also bears his name, Detective Williams is still giving to his fellow officers. On Saturday, Debbie Williams gave help to a disabled officer and also to the family of Officer Rodney Thomas, killed in a hit and run.
Debbie Williams says having the dedication today was also extra special, since today was her husband's birthday.