By Victor O'Brien

Killeen Daily Herald

When newly-pinned Harker Heights police officer Jason Cunningham chose to become a cop several years ago, a desire to help people motivated him.

When Cunningham graduated from Central Texas College's 91st Basic Peace Officer course Friday, he was surrounded by 16 officers who said they shared that same desire.

"I want to help people and make a difference in somebody's life every time I can," Cunningham said Friday.

CTC graduated 17 officers Friday to local law enforcement, including 15 to Bell and Coryell counties.

Guest speaker and Belton police Chief Gene Ellis recalled the Fort Hood shooting as an example of the unpredictable and unavoidable risks faced by officers. Ellis spoke of the life-threatening dangers faced by Fort Hood civilian police as they scrambled to save lives.

When the worst days come to an end, their family and friends will guide officers on to the next day, Ellis said.

Serving the community wasn't a debate for Copperas Cove officer Tina Carmell. After six years in the Army, her choice became whether to serve at home or overseas. Carmell chose the former.

Carmell acknowledges that though she hopes to help her community, her job will be more than good deeds. Carmell said the advice she will hold onto as she patrols the streets of Copperas Cove is to hold onto her compassion.

Recalling the advice, Carmell said, "Don't forget only a small part (of the community) is criminals, everybody else just needs your help."

Contact Victor O'Brien at or (254) 501-7468. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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