Law enforcement role model
Last week I promised to tell the story of former Police Chief J.C. Gore of Ballinger, Texas.
Having taken the job of General Manager of the Ballinger Ledger 6 years ago, I had the pleasure of working with the Chief of Police in Ballinger as well as Winters, Texas. But this story is about the Ballinger Police Chief.
Having faced all the problems of hiring in a small rural Texas City, the same problems that seem to plague every small Texas rural city, Chief Gore came up with the best recruitment program that served his community, and still serves his community to this day.
It all started so simply. Chief Gore set up a booth at the high school for career day. His intentions were to find two seniors that fit his needs and the needs of his police force. His requirements were a 3.3 grade point average and a desire for police work. That first year he also took a look at the junior, sophomore and freshmen class to spot potential recruits.
Having found his two seniors that day, the offer was equally simple. The City of Ballinger paid for these two kids to go to the police academy and entered into a two-year contract with the City of Ballinger. They would graduate from the academy, get certified, and paid by the city and then work for the city for two years.
At the end of the two years these kids would then head off, with service record in hand for a new job. Most went to Abilene and San Angelo. Others went to San Antonio and to this day, all over the state of Texas.
You see, each year, Chief Gore had two new recruits, and two were leaving. The best parts of this program were these kids were from the City of Ballinger. They knew everyone in town, and everyone knew them. These were the most respectful, well-trained officers I have ever met. Don’t get me wrong, if you broke the law, these officers knew their jobs and did their jobs very well, but they did it with respect for their community and respect for authority.
I can tell you, at career day, these jobs are sought after as early as the freshmen year. Gore would always work with all the kids that wanted the positions and at graduation it was a big deal when he announced the new recruits for the Ballinger Police Department. The newspaper would do a story on the new recruits as well as a follow up on the two that were leaving. Gore would provide statistics and accommodations for the departing officers. This process is treated as a celebration in the community.
More than just a good police force, but a good community feeling was created. Chief Gore knew every child in that school system. I have seen him on the playground with the elementary kids, pushing a swing. I have seen him in the cafeteria having lunch; he knew the kids of Ballinger. In case you are wondering, I have also seen Chief Gore tackle a bank robbery suspect and body slam a drunk driver that threw a punch at him after a high speed chase.
The community loved Chief Gore who has since retired from Police work, but his legacy lives on.
Upon his retirement, this was said — Stephen Smith, Former District Attorney, recalled when he was preparing a trial and J.C. Gore was his major witness “I tried to track him down so we could work up, get him ready for the case, so I finally go in the patrol car with him and drive around town with him,” said Smith. “Every place we stopped, the kids would run up and want to talk to him, and share things with him and that is a rare thing, to have a man that has the respect of a child, they trusted him no matter what he did.”
It all started when Chief Gore set up a booth at Career Day at Ballinger High School 27 years ago.
Dennis Phillips | Robertson County News