Kirk Riggs may not be battling the drug lords of Colombia, but he is following in the footsteps of his father and brother.
Riggs was recently selected as Rockwall’s new police chief, replacing Mark Moeller who recently retired.
A native of San Diego, Calif., Riggs had the opportunity to live in other parts of the country as well as areas outside the United States because of his father, Leland Riggs,’ job with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
When Riggs was 10 years old, his father was transferred to Mexico City. After that, the family went to Panama for two years until Riggs’ father accepted a position as special agent in-charge in Brownsville, Texas.
It was while he was a senior at Los Fresnos High School that drug lords tried to kill his father in Bogota.
After graduating from high school in 1977, Riggs went to Tarleton State where he played football and was enrolled in the business majors program.
When he was a sophomore in college, the Dublin police chief called Riggs and offered him a job in law enforcement. Riggs spent eight months in Dublin.
“I think you learn a lot of skills in a small community,” Riggs said.
Then it was off to Riverside, Calif., to take a test.
Meanwhile, his brother Mark, who also is in law enforcement, said there was an opening at Farmers Branch. He joined the department on March 1, 1981, where he stayed for 25 years.
“I was the first cop they hired that was not married,” Riggs said.
Despite the fact his father had suffered serious injuries while working with the DEA, Riggs finally succumbed to the family tradition.
“My father has been through it all,” he said. “He is like a John Wayne. So I am carrying on the family tradition. It is sort of like [the TV show] “Blue Bloods.
“Football was fun, but hearing the stories all my life ... my brother is in [law enforcement] ... it is in my blood,” he said. “Obviously, I am very glad I made the choice.”
The worse event, as a police officer, that he went through was when one of his fellow officers, Lowell Clayton “L.C.” Tribble, was ambushed while sitting in his car in 1983.
“I had just spoken with him moments before,” Riggs said. “He went home because he had a sick child. His wife was the manager at the apartment complex.”
It was when he returned to his patrol car that investigators believe Tribble may have seen a drug deal going down. Before he was able to get out of the car, he was murdered. Riggs said Tribble was able to get at least one round off in return fire.
“It never was cleared,” Riggs said about the murder case.
Then, two days later, another officer appeared to have been the victim of a shooting while on duty. That was not the case, though.
“I said, ‘This is getting crazy,’” Riggs said. “When someone is shot and killed, it really brings it home. I don’t take things for granted. I use street survival skills.”
One of his best memories is of his partnership with Jeff Ashabranner on the narcotics squad. Ashabranner now is a lieutenant with Farmers Branch police.
“It’s the camaraderie,” Riggs said.
After 25 years in Farmers Branch, Riggs decided it was time to retire and take a job as assistant chief in what he said was another beautiful community in April 2006 — Rockwall.
With Moeller retiring, Riggs was ready to take the next step and lead the Rockwall Police Department.
“Now, I get to make more decisions,” he said. “If I had not been a cop, I would have been a coach. I love mentoring ... the feeling of moving in the right direction and being innovative.
“We have a great foundation because we have a solid team,” Riggs said.
There will be some tweaking, and because of the national attitude with recent events involving police officers, public trust is one of the top things he wants to tweak.
“Success comes through partnership with the community, getting out in the community more,” Riggs said.”I like getting involved. As a chief, you are the ambassador.
“We are getting some bad media,” he said. “It is like any profession. I tell my guys this is a very noble profession. It takes a lot of courage and self control.”
Using football terminology, Riggs said, “Two a days are coming up and we have to work harder.”
Gary E. Lindsley may be reached at email@example.com.