By Victor OBrien
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen police officers see people at their worst. Whether it’s an abused child, a burn victim or a dead body, what their eyes see on the job is traumatic.
When an officer needs privacy and an open ear other than a supervisor or a spouse, the chaplain is there.
The Killeen Police Department has openings for three chaplain volunteers, but Alvin Dillard is its only one.
His background as a former officer gives him an advantage as chaplain, but it’s not required for the job.
Dillard’s role with KPD isn’t about fighting crime, but supporting those who do. He provides emotional and sometimes spiritual counseling to officers and their families, as well as victims, sometimes even delivering death notices for officers to victim’s families.
“I have a deep respect and care about each of the officers and command staff and personnel in the department. It’s giving back a little more to them than they gave to me,” Dillard said of returning the blessings law enforcement gave to his life by supporting Killeen’s officers.
Dillard, 63, pastor at Faith Community Church of God, has approximately 15 years experience in law enforcement, including a 10-day stint as police chief in Valentine, Neb. He left that job because of city politics. He has also been a deputy sheriff in Kansas City, Mo., after becoming a police officer at 21, when he left the Navy.
When Officer Jason Wright drowned Dec. 7, Dillard’s first priority was supporting Wright’s wife and children. Dillard waited at Stillhouse Hollow Lake and then supported divers when Wright’s body was recovered, he said.
“Officers go through things a lot more personal than many people do. They usually develop a very close bond with one or two people within a shift or group,” Dillard said.
During the funeral for 20-year veteran officer Otis McNeir, 83, who retired in 1985, Capt. Jackie Dunn, who knew McNeir, said Dillard’s sermon showed a man who has a way of getting to know people even if he never knew them personally.
“Even though he had never met Otis, he gave the impression that he knew Otis. To me because I had work with Otis and knew Otis, he just made it a very comfortable situation and showed him to be a caring person,” Dunn said.
He added that even though a chaplain’s deeds in the department often go unnoticed, the benefit is there; it’s just behind closed doors between chaplain and officer.
The departments Dillard worked in didn’t have chaplain programs, but it’s something he wishes they had.
As a chaplain, he said he hopes he makes the high-stress career easier for officers. To learn how to do that, he gains an intimate knowledge of a Killeen officer’s role, sometimes by riding along with them to witness what they encounter.
Dillard moved to Killeen in 1999 from Houston. He began pastoring in 1981 after experiencing a spiritual change when he married his wife.
He started college at 40 and has a degree from Houston Graduate School of Theology. He worked as a Metroplex Hospital chaplain for six years before being accepted to KPD two years ago.
Dillard is the co-founder of the Christian Assistance Network, which helps people with electric and water service, along with rent payments and job search skills.
He also works with Boy Scouts in the area.
“He gives all his heart and loyalty to whatever he’s serving,” said Dillard’s wife, Sun Ye, who admits she’s no stranger to seeing her husband get up in the middle of the night to go out on police calls. “He’s a godly man, a good counselor and a good pastor.”
Dillard also counsels individuals on probation and parole and /or battling substance abuse, he said.
“Whatever I do, I’m hoping I’ll have at least a small imprint with the life I’ve lived and in some small way someone will have been blessed from it and have been a better person,” he said.
Dillard said the chaplain service he provides at KPD shows the city’s commitment to building a healthy community that can’t be calculated in dollars.
“I don’t think you can pay for it,” Dillard said. “There’s not enough money. You can’t buy it and people really appreciate that. It shows a different side of our law enforcement community, that is caring and compassion.”
Contact Victor O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468