As the third-youngest in a family of 16 children in St. Louis, Gary Kent said there were two things he wanted to do when he grew up: be a soldier and a police officer. Missions accomplished.
Kent spent 24 years in the U.S. Army, in aviation, retiring as a first sergeant in 2009.
In 1995, while still in the Army, Kent joined the Nolanville Police
Department as a conditional reserve officer. He graduated from the Central Texas College Police Academy.
With the support of both police and military chains of command, and despite three Army deployments to Iraq, Kent worked his way up the ranks.
“The military supported my police work,” he said, “and the police department supported my Army career.”
He stayed with his police work after retiring from the Army, and in 2010, he was named Nolanville’s police chief.
A resident of Copperas Cove, Kent said he noticed political candidates seemed to take an interest in his community only around election time.
With encouragement from members of his church, Kent decided to run for a seat on the Copperas Cove City Council. He was elected in 2010 and re-elected for a second three-year term in November.
Kent said his duties as police chief and councilman complement each other. He sees no conflict in living in one town while working in another.
The “hallmark” of his public service, he said, is to provide a safe environment for children in the community.
“On the law enforcement side, every child should grow up predator-free,” he said. “I will seek predators and bring them to justice.”
As a councilman, Kent supports youth activities.
“We are working on a place where high school kids can hang out without getting in trouble.”
Kent makes frequent visits to Nolanville Elementary School in hopes of improving the image youngsters have of police.
The First Responders Holiday Parade, in its second year, gives the community a positive view of law enforcement and emergency personnel from around the area, Kent said.
“We want kids to run to us rather than run from us,” he said.
As part of the image-building effort, police officers and firefighters compete once a year in a Guns and Hoses community softball game, Kent said. He is quick to point out that the Guns beat the Hoses, 36-6, in this year’s game.
“We wore them out,” he said with a grin. “It was a great game.”