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Portland Police Chief Mark Cory talked about his long career in law enforcement during the Holiday with Heroes luncheon put on by the Portland Chamber of Commerce.

The Portland Chamber of Commerce showed its support for two local law enforcement agents during the annual Holiday with Heroes luncheon.

The two men, Texas Ranger Cody Lankford and Portland Chief of Police Mark Cory, told stories from years on the force and how much the badge means to them.

“The phrase ‘weight of the badge’ has a lot of meanings to me and to others who are in law enforcement or first responders,” Chief Cory said in a video introduction. “We see things in this job that don’t go away no matter how long we try.  Those scars are embedded.

“But at the same time, that’s just a small portion of what we do. There’s so much good that we get to do throughout our career in law enforcement and it’s all about the good things that you see.”

Cory talked about how difficult its been over the last five years with officers getting killed across the country, as well as in Texas, and the negative publicity on social media and in the news.

“So in 1984 I started my career with dark hair and a 30-inch waist and could pretty much chase anybody down, now I have a 40-inch waist and not quite as fast,” he laughed.

“You see the outer things, but no one really sees the kind of scarring that happens on the inside through a career like this.”

He said it’s not just the 36-year veterans like himself who see things that will never go away. A two-year rookie officer can see things that will stay with them for life as well.

He also said that he understands why the police get a bad wrap sometimes. There are 680,000 police officers in the United States he added, “ ... there’s going to be some bad apples intermixed, there’s no doubt about that.

“But for the other 99.999% of us out there that are doing our best to defeat crime and keep our community safe, that’s what it’s all about.”

He said  that he’s fortunate to have a family that supports his life in law enforcement because sometimes he comes home after a difficult scene and needs to talk it out with someone and he has them there to listen.

Cory also talked about emergency dispatchers and how they also face difficulties, whether it be from a major accident and they need to get them help fast to listening to frightened voices on the other line who desperately need help. He said about 25% of people who want to take on the job don’t make it through the training program.

He also talked about Sergeant Cody Renfro and said, “He’s been with the department for 16 years and is very family oriented. He has a wife and two young children.

“I want to show you the sacrifice that a lot of people don’t see.”

Before showing a video of Renfro in action, he said that every year about three to four drunk drivers cross the Harbor Bridge going the wrong way across the causeway and never make it into Portland.

The pulse pounding video showed a vehicle barrelling towards Sergeant Renfro’s stopped vehicle before smashing into it, all the while hearing what the sergeant is going through.

Cory told the audience that Renfro was shaken up but OK.

He added that if someone is racing through Portland at a high rate of speed the Portland PD might not even give chase because by the time patrol units get on the road they are more than likely already in Corpus Christi.

What’s the fastest the PD has clocked someone tearing through the city? 

Cory said 156 mph.

“We serve our community,” he said. “We keep the families and our community safe the best we can at all times.

“But for the job itself, I never want to do anything else.”

•pgonzales@mysoutex.com•

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