Center police chief preparing for retirement

By Donna McCollum

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - Small town police departments are often the stepping block to bigger stations, in bigger cities. However, Center Police Chief Walter Shofner knew he always wanted to serve the citizens of his hometown. "If you're from around here and you want to stay that works, said Shofner on the day of his retirement party. "A lot of times we're having to draw people in from far away and they're not going to stay long, usually."

Shofner's career began in 1979 with a patrol during the grave yard shift. He advanced to Center detective for eight years and then became chief 3 1/2 years ago. Unfortunately, there were some bad events that took place during Shofner's tenure as chief. The 2007 murders of prominent of Center residents and friends of Shofner told the rest of Center what Shofner knew all along. "We all have that sense of security to a degree and unfortunately it's not what it was 20,30 years ago," said the chief.

For that reason Shofner worked hard to build the force so each officer would have a partner. And when necessary, Shofner hits the streets. That's what detective Joey Haley likes about Shofner. "He actually gets in the trenches with his men. He leads by example. He just don't point a finger and make you go. He's out there with you."   "It's been an extreme pleasure to work with him. Very nice. Easy to get along with as long as you do what he tells you," said Sgt. Phil Hennigan of his boss and friend.

The chief may be on the receiving end of orders. He says first order of business after retirement is to fix up the place. Shofner's retirement is effective December 31st.