ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Abilene Police Department (APD) celebrated 100 years of service to the community of Abilene Thursday, and five APD officers were recognized for 20 years of service – a combined 100 years – at an Abilene City Council meeting.

Picture from city council meeting on Thursday, January 26

Russell Antilley, Aron Bryan, David Cox, Charles Richardson, and Erin Bennett were all part of the same graduating class of the Abilene Police Department. Each officer was recognized by the city council with a plaque commemorating their time with APD, a recognition coin from Abilene City Manager Robert Hannah, and a monetary bonus.

Meet Officer David Cox

Officer Cox is a School Resource Officer at Mann Middle School. In addition to this school, he also covers Long Early Learning Center, as well as Martinez, Stafford, Ortiz, and Purcell Elementary schools. He shared that he enjoys the positivity he is surrounded with each day, and the unique opportunities he has experienced.

Abilene ISD: SRO David Cox (Sept. 2021)

“My favorite thing about being a school resource officer is just the positivity that I’m around. My first 12-and-a-half years for my job, I was on patrol, and when you’re a patrol officer – especially working midnights – you’re not always around everybody at their best, unfortunately. So, you kind of forget there’s a lot of good in the world,” Ofc. Cox explained. “But when I’m here at the school, I see these kids, the kids are great, the kids are fun, and it’s a much more positive place to be.”

While some children can have a negative preconceived notion of what the police force is, Officer Cox said that idea could possibly stem from watching a family member being arrested or other experiences.

“That may leave a bad taste in their mouth,” Ofc. Cox settled. “Here at the school, they can kind of interact with me on a personal level and I can do things with them that they wouldn’t normally think a police officer would be doing.”

One of his favorite ways to connect with students is playing tennis with them during Coach Stanley’s class.

“I’m no tennis player by any means, so we’re kind of on the same level there, but its just a lot of fun, the kids like it,” Ofc. Cox expressed. “I got one kid in particular, he loves playing tennis against me. He has yet to beat me, he talks a lot of trash, but its fun. It’s just a neat thing.”

Meet Officer Erin Bennett

Officer Bennett also works closely with children as a detective in the youth division with APD. She shared that her work primarily consists of investigating crimes involving children, including juvenile suspects, missing people and child custody cases. Officer Bennett said she found her passion for working with children early on.

Abilene Police Department: Officer Erin Bennett, 2014

“I love working with children. I feel like working with children was a calling early on in my career,” Ofc. Bennett said. “I had to handle some calls that involved juvenile victims, and I became interested in how to better investigate those.”

She shared that some of the reasons why she enjoys being a detective is because no two days are alike and she also has the opportunity to help families.

Ofc. Bennett continued, “I love that I get to help people. A lot of these kids need a second chance, and once they get redirected, they straighten up their life and hopefully don’t get in trouble again… It’s awesome when you get to make a difference for a child in that manner.”

She also shared that these last 20 years have seemed to fly by, but she has had a lot of fun.

“I have really enjoyed my time here with the city and it has flown by really fast. I don’t know where 20 years went, but it’s been a lot fun and I’ve enjoyed all the experiences that I’ve gotten doing this job,” Ofc. Bennett added.

Meet Sargent Aron Bryan

APD Sargent Bryan said her division hits the streets every morning to patrol. She shared that she admired police from a young age.

Abilene Police Department: Sgt. Aron Bryan (2014)

“When I was a kid, I can remember thinking back that, ‘man, these cops are awesome,’ and it’s such an honorable job, and I wanted to do that ever since I was little,” Sgt. Bryan recalled.

Growing up in Abilene, Sgt. Bryan said she loves to go out and serve the city, as well as getting to be a part of the community.

“Of course, you know, you get to help people. You also get to make the decisions of enforcing the law. But later on, they come up to you and you get the thanks, ‘hey, taking me to jail saved my life,’ or ‘hey, taking me to rehab, I got off drugs,'” Bryan reveled.

She said she’s often found herself working around farm animals, to which she shared she has been chased by a few – including roosters, hens and even a turkey. One of her more memorable moments was when she ran into a large pot-bellied pig.

“Several years ago, I was on a call, but it was an alarm call. Nobody was home. We’re in the backyard checking the area, and we see this kids’ playhouse. All of sudden, it moves,” Sgt. Bryan painted the picture. “This big pot-bellied pig comes out. We find ourselves in the house, holding the glass door shut while this pig is trying to come in. We found out later that it’s a pet.”

Even when chased by a beloved pet pig, Sgt. Bryan said being on patrol is where her heart is.

Sgt. Bryan added, “I love patrol, this is where my heart is and this is what I enjoy, and this is what keeps me going every single day. I love being out here.”

Courtesy of the City of Abilene

At the city council meeting, Abilene City Manger Robert Hannah thanked the officers who work with APD.

“It’s not because of the city council, it’s not because of the city manager,” Hannah said. “It’s because of the men and women who work in that department, and the dedication and commitment to the community that they bring everyday.”

Each officer was given a chance to thank those who helped them along the way these past 20 years. They gave thanks to their families, friends, community members, and the city for their appreciation and support.