Posted 3/29/16 (Tue)
By Neal A. Shipman
Twenty years ago on March 20, 1996, Keith Braddock, a 16½-year veteran of the Watford City Police Department, was slain in the line of duty as he was shot and killed when he responded to a call at the American Legion Club on Watford City’s Main Street.
It was a day that plunged our small, closely-knit community into shock and disbelief. It was a day that many of us that knew and respected Keith Braddock as a police officer, a friend, a father and a husband, will never forget.
As I remember back to that day 20 years ago, March 20, 1996, was a typical spring day in Watford City. There wasn’t anything special or different about it, other than the Watford City Jaycees were holding their annual “Jail and Bail” fundraiser. And Officer Keith Braddock was a big part of that fundraiser as he was charged with the duty of going from business to business or home to home to arrest some unsuspecting citizen on trumped up charges and then haul them to the make-shift jail where they had to call friends or family to make bail. Keith, who was known for his “bigger than life smile” and infectious laugh, truly loved playing out his role and giving back to the community he loved and called home.
But the fun of “Jail and Bail” and the quietness of Watford City turned much more somber when word went out that a man had discharged a rifle in the American Legion Club.
That is when Keith Braddock became the protector of the citizens of Watford City. It was a role that Braddock fully understood as he put aside his concerns for his personal safety and responded to the call and entered the building. While Braddock no doubt believed that he could resolve the incident peacefully, that is not what happened, as upon entering the building, Officer Braddock was shot and killed.
Keith Braddock gave his life, 20 years ago, doing his duty. He was serving and protecting the citizens of Watford City.
And now the memory of Keith Braddock will live on forever as the Watford City Police Department’s conference room in the new McKenzie County Law Enforcement Center will be named the “Braddock Room.”
It is a fitting tribute to a Watford City police officer who gave the ultimate sacrifice to the citizens of Watford City.