My friend, Mike Gentry, the chief of police of the Harker Heights Police Department, is retiring after 40 years in law enforcement. Twenty-two of those spent taking care of the residents of this city.

He’s part of the foundation of that catch phrase we use so often. The leadership of his department has definitely been true evidence of a higher “quality of life.”

As a journalist, I’ve only known Mike for five years, but I knew about him prior to becoming one of those who got assigned to interviewing him as part of my job.

I call him friend because of the character and belief in goodness and honor that he brought with him to this job. We use the term a great deal, but he is a “stand up guy,” in my book.

This is my last chance to share personal thoughts about this great man before he retires at the end of the month.

When covering a story, journalists are to be fair, unbiased, somewhat removed from the situation, keeping a check on our emotions and the number of adjectives we use.

I was privileged to write stories about Mike after he spoke to large crowds, installed new officers, and shared good wishes with those retiring from his department.

Every time I heard him speak, I always came away deeply moved and inspired. Writing stories and summing up what he said was difficult because the depths of his thoughts were print-worthy, but there was never room for all of it. I had to end it somewhere.

I’m sorry if you never had a chance to sit in on a swearing in of new police officers. He always reminded them of the honor that went along with being a police officer.

Regardless of how many were in the room to be pinned, his words were meant individually for each of those officers and we just benefitted by simply listening.

I always loved this quote: “Law enforcement is an honorable profession that is absolutely necessary. An ordered society cannot exist without people who will defend the peace and hold accountable those who would deviate from societal norms,” he would proclaim.

I believe I’ve slept better at night knowing that Mike and the people who served with him are the best in the world.

I can’t pass up sharing what a Harker Heights Police Department officer did for me more than once. It’s a little embarrassing on my part, but it proves again the dedication of the HHPD.

It was around 3 a.m. and I was quickly awakened out of a deep sleep by banging on my front door. I opened my door, and there stood a Harker Heights police officer telling me that I had left my garage door open.

With the growth of the city, they don’t do that as much as they used to, but I will never forget it. They’ve also visited my house a couple of times when I heard suspicious noises.

As usual, when writing about Mike there’s always more that could be said. There just aren’t enough good words to appropriately praise this man.

God bless you, Mike, as you leave your post, and bless you in your future endeavors. As you said the other day, at least you won’t have to be answering the phone at 2 a.m. anymore.

As well, thank you and the city leaders for selecting Phil Gadd as your replacement.

Don’t miss Mike’s retirement reception at 2 p.m. on April 27, at the St. Paul Chong Hasang Parish Center. The event is open to the public, but if you want to attend please RSVP by April 16 at 254-953-5420.

I’ll see you there.

Bob Massey is a Herald correspondent.

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