Indiana State Police
In the fall of 2018, after 33 years of dedicated service to the Wabash Valley, Sgt. Joe Watts made the decision to retire from the Indiana State Police. Sgt. Watts poured his heart and soul into being an Indiana State Trooper and more importantly, into helping others by making a safer environment for the entire Wabash Valley.
From as far back as he can remember, Watts had always wanted to be an Indiana State Trooper. As a teen, he worked at Newlin's Gas Station and Daryl's Gas Station in Montezuma, Indiana, where he would speak with Indiana State Troopers when they would come into the station for service. The troopers were always encouraging him to apply with the department when he became eligible. Watts had always dreamed of being a State Trooper, and through the encouragement of these troopers, he was determined to follow that dream.
Upon graduating from Montezuma High School in 1980, Watts started working as a dispatcher for the Parke County Sheriff's Department and an EMT for the Parke County Ambulance Service. He worked within Parke County until 1984, when he then became a dispatcher for the Indiana State Police at the Terre Haute Post. Watts dispatched for one year before applying and being accepted into the 43rd Indiana State Police Recruit Academy, graduating on November 10, 1985.
Watts was assigned to the Terre Haute State Police Post, straight out of the academy as a Probationary Trooper. Watts’s primary county of assignments were that of Parke and Vermillion. Watts served on the department’s Emergency Response Team for ten years. He was promoted to Corporal in 2000, to serve as a district duty officer, and then in 2004 he was promoted to Sergeant to serve as the Public Information Officer. Watts served in this position for 15 years until his official retirement on February 14, 2019. Watts received several awards during his 33 years of service.
In 2006, Sgt. Watts was awarded the Hoosier Hero Award presented by the Indiana Pacers. He was also the 2010 Recipient of the W. Kevin Artz Award for Vigo County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. In July of 2010, Watts received the Commendation Award for his dedication to his profession and to the citizens he served. Sgt. Watts was also the recipient of three Life Saving Awards in 2003, 2008, and 2013. Watts also received recognition for 1,200,000 safe driving miles in 2018.
Lt. Dan Jones, Putnamville Post Commander, commented, “I have known Joe my entire career and then some. He was one of my Field Training Officers, a shift partner, a mentor, and a close friend. He is family.” Lt. Jones went on to say, “Joe was always well respected in the community and it was common for citizens to ask about him regularly. It seems like everyone knew him and that continues today. In my opinion, he was a shining example of what an Indiana State Trooper should be. To the public, largely because of his position as district PIO and due to his outgoing personality, Joe Watts was the Indiana State Police.”
Sgt. Watts has received numerous letters of commendation and appreciation for his dedicated service. These letters were received from the public and from other law enforcement agencies. Sgt. Watts stated, “One cannot begin to comprehend what this career has meant to me, being an Indiana State Trooper. All of this was enhanced by the support of my loving family, friends, and by working alongside my fellow troopers, local police officers, sheriff’s deputies, fire/rescue, EMS, coroners, tow recovery operators, local officials and the news media. All of you I have the utmost respect for, and you have made my journey a very memorable one.”
Sgt. Watts has two children and three grandchildren, and has been married to his wife Kathy for 34 years. They reside in Vigo County.