A who’s who of Heights city officials gathered in the training room of the Harker Heights Police Department on Wednesday to bear witness to the first person to ever retire from the department after 20 years of “hard” service.
Detective James “Mike” Simmons’ last day as a Harker Heights police officer was April 17 and Thursday marked his first day as an investigator at the District Attorney’s Office in Belton.
“It’s really hard to get into the DA’s Office as an investigator. You either have to know someone really well, be really involved in politics or do good work in this county,” said co-worker Lt. G.D. Borkowicz. “For Mike, it’s definitely the last one. Him going over to Belton speaks volumes for this city and this department.”
Co-workers and colleagues gathered to see Simmons off, but not before taking jabs at him and sharing their personal on-the-job stories.
“As soon as he stepped foot outside the building, people became vultures reassigning his office and drawing straws for the best stapler,” said Police Chief Mike Gentry. “All joking aside, this will be a void we are not going to fill quickly. Mike and his wife, Kim, have been an important part of this department.”
During his first five years with the department, he had 4,000 calls to service, made 175 arrests, was a member of the SWAT team, investigated 3,000 criminal cases and has more than 30 written commendations in his personnel file.
“He has never failed to present himself as an outstanding police officer,” Gentry said, adding that Simmons was awarded the Medal of Valor in 1994 for rescuing a man from a burning bus, posing a great risk to himself. “He has done his job without fear and without favor and always enjoyed working the hardest cases.”
Gentry showed a clip from Paul Harvey’s “The Policeman” at the retirement ceremony to further drive home that no matter where Simmons goes in life, he will always be a policeman because he exemplifies the very definition behind the badge.
“I will miss the people I work with,” Simmons said. “They are some of the best people I have ever worked with.”
In addition to his retiree status, he can also add grandparent to his resume.
Simmons and his wife became grandparents to their first grandchild, Kylee, two weeks ago.
“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years, but it’s been a team effort every step of the way,”Kim Simmons said of her husband’s career.