SWEETWATER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – It’s a special reminder of the honor and sacrifice of our first responders.
Former Sweetwater Police Chief Jim Kelley’s son following in his footsteps, after his passing in January.
“He was a people person through and through,” said Jim Kelley’s wife Scharles Kelley. “He has the reputation of being a fair chief, but I think even people on the other side of the law respected him.”
Jim Kelley spent half of his life serving the city of Sweetwater but as his wife Scharles says giving back to the community was always in his blood.
“He was a Navy Hospital Corpsman,” said Scharles Kelley. “He jumped out of helicopters a lot, got shot at a lot and was probably the best training for him as a police officer later.”
It was a passion to serve and it was a characteristic both he and his son Tanner share.
“When Tanner graduated from the Naval boot camp Jim had a little tear, I’ve never seen Jim ever tear up in any situation but Tanner graduating from boot camp brought a tear to his eye,” said Scharles Kelley.
“He and I were a lot alike,” said Tanner Kelley. “He heard the call to serve that’s why he spent the majority of his life in service and I think I’ve heard the same calling.”
Tanner is now in the midst of taking the next step, following once again in his father’s footsteps after spending nine months at the police academy in South Plains.
“The whole time I was going through it, I thought about what kind of police officer, law enforcement I wanted to be and every time I thought about that, my dad came to mind because he was exceptional at it,” said Tanner Kelley.
Even though Jim wasn’t there to see his son graduate, Tanner and his classmates made sure he was there in spirit.
“His instructor had all the graduates wear a ribbon with Jim’s number, his radio number 340,” said Scharles Kelley.
“I had to tear up instantly and kinda had to pull it together because my dad, he never cried so I can’t be seen in public crying,” said Tanner Kelley.
Tanner Kelley says as he heads into this next phase of life there’s one thing he wants to keep in mind.
“I want to be seen as a humble law enforcement officer that will do the right thing no matter the consequences because that’s who my dad was,” said Tanner Kelley.