Citizens Police Academy class was calling for Sgt. O'Heren
It takes a special officer to take on the leadership of facilitating a citizens police academy.
Many of those who learned the ins and outs of policing gathered Monday to honor Sgt. Brian O'Heren, who is turning over the rains of Burleson's program after nearly a decade at its helm.
"I think Sgt. O'Heren made a great impression on a lot of lives through this program," former Police Chief Tom Cowan said. "He is a man of true integrity."
Leadership of the CPA has been reassigned to Officer Tiffany Bauereisen, who has been herself reassigned as a community resource officer.
"This is bittersweet. We want to thank Sgt. O'Heren for his service. He has been the face of our CPA program," Police Chief Billy Cordell said. "We had also decided to put our community resource officers in positions where they would be in the community limelight. So, we needed to realign the CPA under community resource."
O'Heren was hand-picked for the position by Cowan and Jerry Stringer, who was preparing for a transition from police officer to politician.
"I thought it would be just another job to do," he said. "It has been more than a job. Whoa! Has it been a job."
He didn't accept the first advice he got from Stringer. It was suggested that in his first year he should only offer a basic academy class.
"I ran the basic and advanced class by myself," O'Heren said. "But, I knew at that moment it was something I enjoyed doing."
O'Heren is a daytime traffic sergeant and one of four fatality crash investigators for Burleson.
"Law enforcement is a calling," he said. "When I got into teaching the CPA, I found another calling."
He felt the desire not to let Stringer down on his confidence that O'Heren would be the one to advance the program.
Several class graduates relayed that O'Heren's entire family got involved. His wife, Amy, is presently the president of the Burleson Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association. O'Heren's younger son told him that half of his life has been involved with the CPA program.
"Every summer, I wasn't able to take a vacation," he said. "I don't know if we're ready for that."
O'Heren was presented a number of momentos by graduates, including a lifetime emeritus membership in the CPA alumni program, a Burleson CPA T-shirt and even a coffee cup with a handle resembling his duty sidearm.
Some graduates recall O'Heren helped to transition CPA graduates and the Citizens on Patrol participants into an integrated, accepted division of the police department.
"Mostly, I appreciate the friendships I was able to make," O'Heren said. "You have made more of an impact on myself and my family than I'm sure I did on you."
The CPA should have another class ready for applicants soon, Cordell said, to possibly present a fall course.