Acting Brownwood Police Chief James Fuller prompted laughter from a large audience Friday as he prepared to give Cpl. Sky Self a departmental lifesaving award.

Fuller, speaking the annual Law Enforcement Appreciation luncheon, also made Self laugh.

“He can look at someone, whether they’re drunk or high or half asleep or whatever, whether they’re young or old, male or female, and he can communicate with them in a way that I’ve never understood,” Fuller said.

“Because he relates to them.”

As laughter rippled through the building, Fuller clarified his comment. 

“He understands where they’re coming from,” Fuller said.

The lifesaving award presented to Self was one of several recognitions at the luncheon, held at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church’s Connection Center and hosted by the Brownwood and Early chambers of commerce.

Brown County Judge Paul Lilly called Early Police Chief David Mercer, Bangs Police Chief Jorge Camarillo, Howard Payne University Department of Public Safety Director Bob Pacatte, Chief Sheriff’s Deputy for Enforcement James Stroope and Fuller to join him on the stage, where Lilly presented each one with a framed certificate of exemplary service.

Fuller called Self to the stage and presented him with the lifesaving award in connection with a stabbing in December 2018. Two men were stabbed during an altercation, and Fuller and another officer — who has since moved to another state — applied tourniquets to the injured men, Fuller said.

DPS Maj. Jason Hester, who is stationed in Austin and is assistant presiding officer for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, spoke to the audience about the DPS patch. The patch, Hester said, “embodies everything of what it means to be in law enforcement.”

The center of the patch contains the colors of the state flag — blue, which represents loyalty, white, which represents purity and red, which represents courage, Hester said.

“Your integrity as a law enforcement officer must remain intact and pure,” Hester said. “Red represents bravery. You have committed to defending those who can’t defend themselves. You are sworn to protect them at the risk of losing your life. The color red and the bravery it represents is so important that the entire background of the very foundation of our patch is red.”

The patch depicts oak leaves, representing humility, patience, faith, power, endurance and strength “all of which make up the character needed to be a trooper,” Hester said. The patch also depicts an olive branch, which  represents peace, he said.

“You are peace keepers, guardians of our citizens and their rights,” Hester said. “The reputation of the highway patrol is earned by the proud men and women who serve the force. Do nothing to tarnish that reputation.”

Hester said the patch also depicts a thin blue line which separates peace from chaos.

“Always remember that you are part of something bigger than yourself,” Hester said. “You are a servant to the citizens of this state, and our authority and power is granted to us by more than 27 million citizens of the state. We have been given great power to take away someone’s freedom and in some cases you could be forced to take their very life.

“With that great power comes great responsibility to be a servant leader to the people we are sworn to protect. So make sure  you wear that patch proudly. We can’t do it alone. We need our partners in law enforcement and we need our citizens.

“The thin blue line separates peace from chaos. And when other people run away, time and time again you get to watch law enforcement officers run toward danger. And that happens all across the nation. It’s a calling. It takes a special person to do it. Not everybody can do it. I’m proud to be part of the profession.”