NewsFaces of Fort Cavazos


Faces of Fort Cavazos: Chief Pedro Lopez of KPD spent decades as a cop and soldier at the same time

Posted: 10:13 AM, Mar 18, 2024
Updated: 2024-03-18 11:13:36-04
FOFC KPD Chief Pedro Lopez

KILLEEN, Texas — Service members can take many different paths when their time in the military is over.

For some veterans, that new path starts long before the military uniform even comes off.

That is how it went for Chief Pedro Lopez of the Killeen Police Department.

He is a retired veteran and proud servant of his community, but Killeen hasn’t always been home for him.

His story begins in Brooklyn, New York.

”During the 70’s, New York was still on the decline,” Chief Lopez said. “We had a lot of crime and a lot of drug problems. So, I grew up in that environment. I grew up in a neighborhood called Bedford-Stuyvesant. That’s where Jay Z, Biggie Smalls—they all grew up in the same neighborhood.”

For him, joining the military was more of a need than a choice.

”You know, it was out of necessity,” Chief Lopez said. "I was a young teenage dad, I got my girlfriend pregnant at the time. So, I dropped out of high school, and I needed to get a job.”

He is also the son of a Vietnam veteran, and the military was always on his radar.

He served close to three decades in the National Guard, Reserves, and active-duty Army.

A lot of the years that he’s been a police officer, he was still in the military.

”Oh, yes,” Chief Lopez said. “You know, it’s funny, I spent 14 years working undercover narcotics with the Houston Police Department and people always asked me, 'how come you don’t have tattoos and all that stuff?' I said, 'I can’t because I’m still a reserve soldier. I have to maintain the same short hair, uniform appearance, not tattoos.'”

He told me that experience gives him a unique perspective on his nearly 40 years in uniform that helps him better serve the Killeen community.

Those who work with him told me it also explains why he goes the extra mile and joins his officers in the field.

”Officers, when they see him come in the briefing room, they know he’s ready to go out and do some police work on the night shift and he gets his hands dirty, and that’s the talk for a couple of weeks,” Ofelia Miramontez with KPD Public Affairs said. “Chief Lopez was out, getting his hands dirty, and getting those bad guys.”

Though he is only wearing one uniform now, his decades of service to the Army is why he wears it here in Killeen.

That’s why he has a message for his fellow vets.

”I’m honored to serve you, I'm one of you. I understand the issues that you go through,” Chief Lopez said. “With deployments, leaving your family members behind, leaving your children behind. During your deployments, if you need us to come by and check on your house. Please call the police department. We do area checks, and we do it gratefully because we understand.”

Chief Lopez told me his decades of service are more than a call.

For him, it's a way of life.