American Legion honors officer (video)
July 26, 2013 at 2:26 a.m.
Years ago, a hurricane threatened the safety of downtown Victoria. It was feared the county jail could not survive the storm, and more than 500 inmates had to be evacuated.
"It took a lot of buses, a lot of officers, and it was hot," Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor recalled. "One bus decided to get disruptive."
The sheriff knew exactly how to get that bus in line - he called Cpl. Craig Kirkpatrick and his patrol dog, Rocky.
"I asked him if that dog could bark on command," O'Connor said, the tips of his bushy white mustache rising as he smiled. "He said yes."
They took Rocky on the bus, and he barked - boy, did he bark.
"I can still hear that bark," O'Connor said. "Soon after there was great silence."
Victoria's American Legion Post 166 honored Kirkpatrick with the Officer of the Year award Friday for his devotion and commitment to his job.
To date, Kirkpatrick has removed more than $7.3 million dollars of drugs from the streets of Victoria, which includes 2,280 pounds of marijuana, 20.28 pounds of methamphetamine and more than 20 assault rifles. He has worked with interdiction since 2008.
No other law enforcement officer in the Golden Crescant region has accumulated such a degree of individual success in highway interdiction, said Capt. Herb Tucker of the Victoria County Sheriff's Office.
"He's made a lot of personal sacrifices to do his job," Tucker said. "We have taken time away from his family, and he has never questioned it."
Kirkpatrick said he was honored and humbled by the recognition, but that "it is all about teamwork. This isn't about me."
"There's so many other people that could have been nominated for this award."
John Tait of the American Legion said it's important to recognize the city's first responders because they are protecting Victoria.
"These guys," he said, "go out there every day and every night, and they fight that war."
Kirkpatrick said his most memorable feat was when he pulled over a family heading south.
In their car, he recovered more than 20 assault rifles, bulletproof vests and an assortment of high-capacity magazines.
The van was headed toward Mexico with the weapons.
"He was able to take that off the street," O'Connor said. "He's making a significant difference."