When I was a high school student, the closest I thought I would ever have to get to a state trooper with Texas Dept. of Public Safety was on the side of the highway when my speed could exceed the limit on rare occasions. Little did I know there were other plans for me on the horizon? I became a volunteer chaplain for the Wichita Falls Police Department almost exactly 21 years ago. In that role, I rubbed shoulders with the troopers stationed in Wichita and Archer counties when there were fatal crashes outside the city limits. And then in 2005, I was recruited by some chaplaincy colleagues to serve the DPS here as a chaplain for this area. I have never regretted it. I am privileged to serve with some of the finest men and women committed to protecting and serving the state of Texas. This week I was reminded of that fact.
A friend of mine shared a story about one of longest tenured troopers in this area. A number of years ago a man was tried and convicted in Hood County of sexually assaulting a group of mentally retarded citizens. It was a series of crimes that took place over a period of time. One of the victims was an adult male who is Downs Syndrome. I happen to know this particular gentleman fairly well. I am thankful to count him among my friends. The above mentioned DPS trooper knew him when he was one of the victims of these heinous crimes.
When the criminal trial for the accused perpetrator rolled around, the trooper came to the trial everyday to observe. And he sat next to our mutual friend in the courtroom in uniform. His intent was to help our terrified friend to feel safe and secure. I did not live in Granbury at that time, but I am told that the dedicated state trooper protected and served during that trial in a way that he probably will never be called on to do again in his career. He accomplished the mission at hand during that dark period for the victims.
In the ensuing years, the trooper has taken time every week to stop by the care center where our friend resides. He brings him junior badge stickers and other memorabilia that is meaningful. His very presence in uniform each week is reassuring to a man whose has been violated in unspeakable ways.
This week I had to call on the same trooper to ask for a favor. Our mutual friend, who lives in the care center, lost his father last Tuesday. I asked this man who swore in 1989 in Austin, Texas, when he graduated from DPS recruit school, to protect and serve the citizens of Texas to sit by our friend during his father’s funeral service. We knew it would help him feel secure and at ease during such sad moment in his life. When I looked out at the audience yesterday, there was a DPS trooper in uniform on the front row with his arm around a 48 year old man who needed protection and service in a special way. And I wondered how I got to be so fortunate to serve these men and women who comprise The Texas Dept. of Public Safety.