Law enforcement officers from across Brown County were honored Friday afternoon at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon at the Coggin Avenue Baptist Church Connection Center.   

Hundreds of officers and citizens gathered in the venue to applaud the various law enforcement agencies around the county, watch awards presentations from the Brown County Sherriff’s Office and the Brownwood Police Department and hear a keynote address from Mitch Slaymaker of the Texas Municipal Police Association.   

Organizations honored at the banquet included the Adult Probation Office, the Bangs PD, Brown County Constables, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Brownwood Lake Patrol, the Early PD, Howard Payne DPS, game wardens from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, the Sherrif’s Office and the Brownwood PD. The Chamber also recognized individuals like Judge Ray West, fire marshal Buddy Preston, fire chief Eddy Wood and former Brownwood police chief Joe Don Taylor.   

The Sherrif’s Office gave a brief presentation and awarded several office staff members in appreciation of their work. Sheriff Vance Hill awarded plaques to Patti Mauldin, Lashauna Karnes and Rick Cottrell for their assistance.   

Brownwood police chief Terry Nichols named Kris Salazar the 2016 Officer of the Year for his department. Nichols himself was also honored by the Brownwood Municipal Police Association.   

The department also took a moment to remember former Brownwood police chief Joe Robbins, who died in March. The Texas Senate passed a resolution honoring Robbins’s memory after his death, and the resolution was read and given to Robbins’s widow at the ceremony.    

“He was a beloved member of his community who touched the lives of those who knew him with his wisdom, his warmth and his dedicated service to others,” the resolution said.   

Slaymaker, a former Brownwood policeman, then gave his address. Slaymaker encouraged the community to thank its peace officers more often, criticized anti-police rhetoric and exhorted officers to feed their “good wolves” — referring to a Cherokee parable about the constant battle between good and evil wolves that rages within man’s soul — during his speech.    

“The wonderful men and women who continue to take on these challenges deserve our thanks, our praise and our unwavering support,” Slaymaker said. “[They] are the protectors of freedom, that very freedom that weaves our entire society together.”