Joanne Batson Gave Officer Stephen Morse her 8-Year Sobriety Medallion Today
RANDOLPH — Chief William Pace announces that veteran Randolph Police Officer Stephen Morse had a surprise encounter today with a woman he helped eight years ago who was in the throes of addiction.
Joanne Batson credits Officer Morse with helping her turn her life around from being addicted to alcohol and opioids. On Wednesday, she personally thanked Officer Morse by giving him the eight-year sobriety medallion she recently received.
In November 2010, Randolph Police were called to a local pharmacy for a well-being check about a woman who appeared to be intoxicated inside the store with her young daughter.
Upon arrival, Officer Morse spoke to Joanne Batson who was drunk standing in line at the store. Once they stepped outside to talk, Officer Morse asked Batson if she had someone who was sober who could help take care of her daughter.
Batson called her aunt and Officer Morse gave her and her then-2-year-old daughter a ride to her aunt’s house in Randolph.
On the way there, Officer Morse spoke to Batson about needing to be there for her daughter and how important it was for her to make changes in her life.
Officer Morse dropped the mother and daughter off at the relative’s home and made sure they were both safe.
Even though as a mandated reporter, Officer Morse was required to file a 51A with the Department of Children and Families later that evening, eight years later Joanne credits the encounter she had with Officer Morse and her decision to seek treatment shortly thereafter with changing her life and allowing her today to be a mother to her children.
“I was in a really bad place. I was close to losing custody of my daughter,” said Batson, age 35, of Randolph. “His gesture of kindness and his compassion towards me really changed my life and it set me on the path toward pursuing treatment. I did long-term treatment for seven months and I’ve been clean ever since. He chose not to arrest me and took me to my aunt’s house with my daughter. He spoke to me a lot on the ride there and he was just being kind and not being mean to me and saying how much my daughter needed me and if I kept going the way I was going I wasn’t going to be around for her.”
According to Batson, after years of pondering it, on Wednesday, she finally gathered the courage to seek out and re-introduce herself to Officer Morse for the first time since that day in 2010. A call was made to the Randolph Police station to have Officer Morse come to the Randolph Intergenerational Community Center. Batson works there as a Member Experience Coordinator.
When they met, they spoke and hugged and Batson gave Officer Morse her eight-year sobriety medallion.
“It was something I thought of doing probably since I celebrated my first year of sobriety,” Batson said. “Each year I wanted to do it, but I haven’t had the guts to do it. But it was something that I really wanted him to know. Police officers deal with a lot of flak, especially these days, and I wanted him to know that he changed this one person’s life. He gave my daughter the mother she deserves and I can’t say how grateful I am for him and the kindness he showed me.”
Now, Batson’s daughter is 10, and she also has a 7-year-old son. She has worked for the Community Center for the past two years.
“It’s going really great. I work with a lot of the youth at the Community Center and I get to share my story with them so that they don’t end up where I was,” Batson said.
For Officer Morse, a 25-year veteran of the department, being able to see Batson again was one of the highlights of his career.
“Anytime you get to meet someone you’ve helped over the years is really a special experience,” Officer Morse said. “It was quite a surprise to see her after all this time and I’m very glad she was able to achieve sobriety and is doing well with her daughter and son.”
Chief Pace commended Officer Morse for his compassion.
“As police officers it’s not everyday that someone takes the time to say ‘thank you’ and we don’t expect any thanks,” Chief Pace said. “But when I heard about Ms. Batson thanking Officer Morse, it’s one of the many things that makes you enjoy getting up and go to work in the morning.”
Town Manager Brian Howard echoed Chief Pace’s sentiments saying, “What a great role model Officer Morse is. He did his job and he did it with compassion. It’s also fantastic to see where Ms. Batson is today and that she is helping people through her job at the Community Center. I am glad that they got to connect after all these years.”
Batson says she wants to continue to pay it forward by helping people who may be in a similar situation she was in eight years ago.
“If I can get sober anybody can,” she said. “I was in a really bad way for a really long time. There’s always hope and it’s never too late. If anyone is struggling and they need someone to talk to they can always reach out and talk to me or come by the Community Center and I would be glad to talk. And I owe Officer Morse for my ability to do that.”