Madam Speaker, Texas is known for its legendary Lawmen that bring criminals to justice. Today, I want to recognize the life of Assistant Chief Deputy Larry Shiflet. He is a lifetime member of what is referred to in my part of Texas as the Poe-leece. It is an informal organization made up of my long-time friends in the Texas law enforcement community. It is an honor to pay tribute to him today as he retires from public service.
Larry Eugene Shiflet was born in Houston on Sept. 2, 1940 and was destined to be a Texas Lawman. At the age of 17, he joined the U.S. Air Force. After serving his country for four years, a friend got him a job in the Union Pacific Railroad Police Department.
He got to do what most boys from Texas only dream about doing: being a real cowboy that protected railroad cars from bandits. He worked in the special investigative unit that tracked down thieves, drug smugglers and hobo stowaways. He later became the head of the investigative unit and had jurisdiction over four states. He worked for 20 years with the railroad before retiring for the first time.
After leaving the rail road police, he obtained additional police training and he was soon hired by the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office in Houston, Texas. His attitude as a deputy was to enforce the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. Chief Shiflet's personality and professionalism earned him respect from both those he worked with and with those he arrested. He inspired many young deputies to strive for excellence and they credit his leadership as the reason for their professional success.
His boss and close friend, Constable Ron Hickman, described Chief Shiflet as being a part of the backbone of the organization. "Chief Shiflet's keen sense of community involvement, understanding of law enforcement responsibility, leadership skills, wisdom and experience have made him an indispensable part of our organization," said Hickman. "His fair, but firm hand has provided a stalwart position that many of us have looked to for resolution during difficult times. I have had the distinct pleasure of working alongside Larry for 25 years and count him among my best friends."
Hickman also described Chief Shiflet as a man that is fully aware of the real dangers of police work, but at the same time is deathly afraid of snakes. Even after working for years along the Texas border for the railroad police, Hickman said that Chief Shiflet is still very likely to shoot somebody to get out of the way of a snake.
Along the way during his career in the Constable's office, Chief Shiflet met his wife Cynthia Calvert when he worked in Atascocita. She was the editor of a local newspaper at the time and called him to ask about the violent crime wave of bicycle thefts in Kingwood. Chief Shiflet suggested that it would be best to discuss the bike thefts over a cup of coffee. That face to face meeting request was the beginning of a relationship that later led to their marriage.
In addition to his law enforcement career, Chief Shiflet had a brief stint as an unofficial U.S. Ambassador to Ireland during a family vacation. At every pub his family stopped at for a meal and a drink, Chief Shiflet would have to defend America and President George W. Bush's foreign policies. As soon as the natives heard the warm, southern drawl in Chief Shiflet's voice, they knew he was from Texas and would launch into anti-American foreign policy tirades.
Chief Shiflet patiently, respectfully and eloquently explained that they were wrong and America was right. As only a true American patriot would, Chief Shiflet spent his entire family vacation defending America and our President from Irish criticism.
Ironically, even though he has spent 50 years in public service through the military and law enforcement, Chief Shiflet started his working career in the newspaper business and it looks like he will end it with newspapers. When he was 10 years old he delivered newspapers by hand from his bike for an old city paper called the Houston Press. In 2007, he and his wife started a community newspaper company called the Tribune newspapers. Instead of delivering papers on a bicycle, he will soon be delivering issues of the Tribune from his red Corvette.
As Chief Shiflet retires today from the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office, I am honored to recognize his lifetime of law enforcement service. For 46 years, he has put on a badge and a gun to protect and serve the people and communities that he loves. As he hangs up his gun for the last time today and turns in his badge, he can ride off into the sunset in his Corvette knowing that he is loved, respected and appreciated by so many.
Happy Trails to you, Chief Shiflet. Thank you for a job well done and for all your hard work to make our Texas neighborhoods safer.
And that's just the way it is.