HUTCHINSON COUNTY, Texas (KFDA) - Kirk Coker dedicated 35 years of his life to being a public servant.
Today, the public returned the favor.
“A big worry all week leading up to today was ‘what kind of response are we going to get from the community? What response are we going to get from other agencies? Considering the current situation with the [coronavirus] going around,” said Patrol Deputy Sammy Ponce, Hutchinson County Sheriff’s Office.
One by one and car after car, people took time to pause, and reflect as Coker’s body was escorted by several law enforcement agencies from Fritch to Amarillo.
“It was just very humbling seeing the community line the streets,” said Ponce. “Posters, people holding his campaign reelection, campaign signs. It was just a proud moment for us, especially within our county.”
Coker’s colleagues describe him as someone who had a love for his church, his country and the people of Hutchinson County.
“He was a true leader,” said Deputy Dustin Tucker. “He was a guy that you could joke around with. He never got mad or upset, he just set a good environment. Whenever you want to work for a good boss, he’s kind of the guy you picture.”
“There was no stopping him,” said K-9 Deputy Gloria Robles. “He was going to do what he was going to do, and surely enough that’s who he was: always working. There was never a day off for that man. Never.”
There’s no doubt he left a lasting impact on his department.
“He instilled in us to make sure family’s first, and your beliefs, but most importantly, to not forget who we work for, and we work for our community,” said Ponce. “[He always told us] not to forget our ‘why.’ Why we got into this road to begin with. He was a very firm believer of helping people whenever they needed help. It didn’t matter what time it was or how in what way.”
Ponce said the support of the community is what’s getting their department through this time.
“It’s a tough business. You’re not going to make everybody happy,” Ponce said. “But at the end of the day, we try not to forget our ‘why,’ and today, the community showed us.”
“I think that God is going to bless us with good leadership, and we’ll continue to move forward, continue to work,” said Tucker. “That’s all you can do.”
Sheriff Coker was 57-years-old. Because he was responding to a call the night he died, his death is considered a line of duty death.