COPPERAS COVE — Deputy Police Chief Eddie Wilson passed the lit Special Olympics torch to the commander of the 89th Military Police Brigade and Fort Hood’s director of emergency services, Col. Robert N. Dillon, on Tuesday.
The department and the brigade participated in separate Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Runs in which about 140 police officers, firefighters and civilians trekked the burning symbol through Cove and Fort Hood.
“This is not just a 9-to-5 job for us,” Dillon said, alluding to his fellow soldiers who support the community through more than their policing efforts.
Fort Hood’s portion of the run carried the torch about four miles along Tank Destroyer Boulevard with about 120 people participating.
About 20 runners from Copperas Cove’s police and fire departments, as well as City Manager Andrea Gardner, ran roughly 2½ miles through the city traveling down Avenue D, U.S. Highway 190, Main Street and Avenue E.
“A lot these people are here on their day off, so they are supporting the cause,” said Cove police Sgt. Les Nace.
Fort Hood soldiers and the Cove runners all volunteered to run alongside the torch through the city and Army post, Dillon and Nace said.
“It is just one of those opportunities for us to truly give back,” Nace said. “Everyone says they want to be a police officer to help and give back to the community, and this is one of the ways to do that.”
According to the Special Olympics-Texas website, the Law Enforcement Torch Run was started in 1981 by Wichita, Kan., Police Chief Richard LaMunyon. It is now the largest grassroots fundraiser and public awareness event for the Special Olympics.
Nace said the department works throughout the year to raise money for the Special Olympics, but the torch run provides more local funds to the event each year than other fundraising programs.
Fort Hood raised about $1,200 through its run efforts last year and about $1,400 this year, Dillon said.
After Tuesday’s run, the brigade passed the torch to the Killeen Police Department, which will tour the city with it today.
Dillon said it was an honor to work with other Central Texas public safety agencies for such an event.
“Our partnership in fighting crime and public safety does not just stop there,” Dillon said. “We are not just partners for the torch run. We are partners every day.”