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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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
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
“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.
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
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.