(ROCKWALL, TX – November 27, 2018) A photo of a police officer’s hat with children’s’ hand prints scattered around it; A framed collage holding encouraging words of strength and love with “Back the Blue” scribbled in crayon surrounded by a rainbow and several hearts; Red and blue stars in the shape of a big heart enclosing several construction paper police badges, each one stamped with a child’s footprint. These are the images that greet me as I await Rockwall Police Chief Kirk Riggs in the lobby of the Rockwall Police Department. Symbols of community support that, as Chief Riggs explains later on, were gifted to the Rockwall Police Department as encouragement after the tragic Dallas police shootings that shook North Texas back in 2016.
Chief Riggs grew up surrounded by law enforcement with his father in DEA and his brother a police officer. After moving from San Diego to Mexico City in his youth, where he picked up quite a bit of Spanish, he ended up playing football for Tarleton State University and initially majored in Business, not intending to go into law enforcement. It was a friend of his father’s who one day while he was home from college mentioned that he should be a police officer, and the rest is history.
Two years as a police officer in Dublin, Texas, and after retiring from the Farmers Branch Police Department in 2006, the city of Rockwall had an opening for an assistant chief of police. Liking the area so much and because of his passion for law enforcement, he applied and got the position. In the words of his father, “If you do something that you love, you won’t work a day in your life.”
As I sit in his office, I mention the obvious golf hobby, which is apparent through the various golf balls, trophies and awards on his shelves and window ledge. When the weather’s not right for his favorite hobby, his 24-year-old son has gotten him into watching Blue Bloods on Netflix. Narcos is a favorite as well due to his father’s career in the DEA. He also enjoys working out and participating in the Annual Santa Cops for Kids 5k and Fun Run hosted by the Rockwall Police Association to benefit the Children’s Advocacy Center for Rockwall County. Chief Riggs is the man in the blue Santa suit you will find being chased by tons of kids at the event for the pre-race “Santa Chase.” It’s one of many community events that Chief Riggs and his department get involved in. He firmly believes that if you have your community’s back they’ll have yours, so his vision for the Rockwall Police Department is to always be out in the community and with the citizens.
Before I leave, I ask him if there is anything about him that most people might not know. A little embarrassed, he mentions that as a young officer, he was offered a full time job in Italy, modeling with an agent who worked with magazines such as GQ. He turned it down of course, but his fellow men in blue love to give him a hard time about it. Fortunately for the city of Rockwall, he chose to stick with his passion instead, and we now have a dedicated, community-involved police chief as a result.
As I leave, I notice more drawings on the walls with hearts, hand prints and Texas silhouettes with a blue line in the center, and I can’t help but realize what he meant by “If you’re doing something you love, you won’t work a day in your life.”
Story and photos by Mary Bierds, Blue Ribbon News.
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