Slain lawman Clint Greenwood’s son joins ranks of Harris County Sheriff’s Office
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Charles Greenwood hugs his mother, Patricia Greenwood, after graduation from the Basic County Corrections Course, at the Harris County Sheriff's Office Academy, Friday, June 15, 2018, in Houston.

Charles Greenwood looked out at his fellow cadets Friday morning, and in a measured three-minute graduation speech, reminded them of their duties as the newest class of detention officers at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Earn the public’s trust. Act professionally. Protect the community with honor and courage. Behave ethically.

“We are honored to have earned our place in this family,” he said.

Minutes later, Chief Deputy Edison Toquica fixed a bright silver star to the 28-year-old’s chest and thanked him for joining the sheriff’s office.

It was a moment eight years in the making, marred only by the absence of his father, veteran lawman Clint Greenwood, who was ambushed and shot to death as he arrived at his job at the Precinct 3 Constable’s Office 14 months ago.

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“I’m just hoping he’d be proud,” said Greenwood, choking up slightly.

Read more: Deputy constable killed in ambush mourned as ‘cop’s cop’

The elder Greenwood had grown up in north Harris County. He abandoned plans to become a doctor, studying Chinese history instead, and later became a lawyer and a fixture in the Harris County criminal justice system. He worked as a Precinct 4 reserve deputy, then as a prosecutor and in private practice, before becoming a full-time peace officer at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and later as assistant chief deputy at Precinct 3.

After his dad joined the sheriff’s office, Charles recalled, the exasperation he’d felt working as a private attorney melted away.

“At the end of the day he came home and he and I would talk, and he just was excited to tell me about work,” Charles said. “He was happy.”

Charles had sold cars and worked as a property manager before starting his own application last year after his father left the sheriff’s office to work at Precinct 3.

In April 2017, a man ambushed his dad moments after he parked at a courthouse in Baytown and started walking into work. Authorities identified the shooter as William Kenny, a 64-year-old man who harbored a long grudge against Harris County officials when his marriage deteriorated in 2012.

After a days-long manhunt, investigators discovered that Kenny had shot himself the day after killing Greenwood. His body had been found in a flower bed near Ben Taub Hospital and taken to the morgue.

Even after his father’s death — and despite the worries of relatives — Greenwood continued pushing ahead to become a peace officer, focusing on the lessons he’d learned watching his father’s career.

“Regardless of what you're doing in law enforcement, you get to go home at the end of the day and feel like — not only did you accomplish something — but … you got to help somebody,” he said.

Read more: Slain lawman Greenwood praised as ‘hero’ with full honors at funeral

He spent a month training for his new job as a detention officer. There were written classes and defensive sparring classes, physical training and lessons on de-escalation. By graduation, he’d risen to the top of his class, putting him at the top of the list of those eligible for a spot in the department’s future academies to train patrol deputies.

He could have avoided a stint at the jail by taking more college classes and then enrolling directly in a patrol deputy academy, but remembered the stories his father told him about training new recruits. The ones who cycled through the jail were better at spotting lies and defending themselves, his father told him.

On stage Friday, minutes after awarding the last of his new jailers their badges, Toquica looked out over the crowd gathered in the academy’s graduation hall, then turned toward Greenwood as his mother, Patricia Greenwood, several aunts and other well-wishers looked on.

“Thank you for accepting the Harris County Sheriff’s Office as a family,” he said. “We embrace you. Thank you for following in your father’s footsteps and keeping his name and legacy alive with us.”

For now, Charles said, he’s got three weeks of additional training, and then he’ll begin working at the jail. He wants to earn his place. He wants to honor his dad, but doesn’t want to be put on a pedestal.

In a year, or maybe a little earlier, he’ll hopefully begin the process to become a patrol deputy.

“I want to try out as much as I can and figure out what I really have a passion for,” he said.

st.john.smith@chron.com



Comments:
Congratulations Charles! You are a man of true valor! God Bless.
Posted by Big Al at 6/26/2018 9:44:55 AM

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