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Harker Heights police chief retires after 45 years in law enforcement

Posted at 3:06 PM, Jul 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-16 16:06:23-04

HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas — After dedicating his life to protect and serve, one Central Texas police chief is retiring. Phillip Gadd started his law enforcement career with the Killeen Police Department.

"It started with the city of Killeen. I was 19 years old when I became a police officer," said Gadd.

After 15 years with the Killeen Police Department, Gadd went to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigations. He worked with the FBI for 23 years as an agent, taking on high-profile cases like the Unabomber and tragedies that hit close to home.

"We had some cases in this area for the Hassan shooting," said Gadd. "I was the supervisor that was over the squad that handled the shooting at Fort Hood."

Following his time with the FBI, he returned to his roots in 2015 to Harker Heights and brought in as a deputy chief and promoted in 2018 to chief of police. Gadd said he immediately got to work.

"When I got here, our officers had three tasers in the police department. Now every officer has a taser. Every officer has a body cam and that’s a crucial piece of equipment we need to protect our citizens and our officers," he said.

Throughout his time in Harker Heights, Gadd made it a commitment to work with the community to implement and enhance programs that benefit the greater good.

"We have a food bank, we have pop-up clinics that we give shots and physicals to families that can’t afford it," he said

With 45 years of service, 30 of those years he spent right here in Central Texas. Gadd admits it is a bittersweet feeling transitioning into retirement.

"We serve to the best of our ability, but we need to allow the younger officers to step forward and assume their roles. The roller coaster; the emotional ride it’s very, very bittersweet. At this time it’s very sweet," said Gadd.

Gadd said plans to spend time focusing on his family, taking vacations with his wife and playing with his grandchildren.

Effective July 16, Deputy Chief Betiale Hawkins will become the interim chief of police. Hawkins is a native central Texan too and is ready to continue serving his community.

"I’m proud to be the one to come after him because he has definitely laid the foundation and the groundwork for us moving forward. We just look forward to definitely continuing our partnership in the community. I'm from here, my family's from here and I’m excited about this new chapter," said Hawkins.