08Cathy BellImagine touching the lives of literally hundreds of members of a family over the course of a lifetime. 

Cathy Bell’s unofficial extended family was the Fayetteville Police Department. She served as an office assistant at the Police Training Center off N. Eastern Boulevard for 23 years. 

Carolyn “Cathy” Bigford Bell died earlier this month shortly after her 65th birthday. Officials said hers was the first civilian FPD death to be honored by officers who wore mourning bands on their badges. She was the first person virtually all police recruits became acquainted with as they launched their careers. “Cathy treated everyone as family and had a special place in her heart for you, and you knew it every time she spoke to you,” said Police Lt. Todd Joyce. “Cathy was a welcoming face to everyone who came for an interview,” he added.

When Bell first received her cancer diagnosis, she continued to work, sometimes from home, and kept her phone with her.  Joyce said when someone called the main number at the training center, they forwarded it to her cellphone with the ever-cheerful greeting, “Police Training, this
is Cathy.”  

Interim Police Chief Anthony Kelly presented Bell with the inaugural “Career of Excellence” award at her home. At the FPD Awards Ceremony that followed, the department showed a video of that presentation. “The ‘Civilian of the Year’ award will be named in honor of Cathy Bell,” said Kelly. 

The department has about 180 civilian employees and 433 sworn officers. Bell is survived by her husband, three children and their extended family.

Photo caption: Cathy Bell

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