By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald

As part of the Exchange Club of Killeen’s commitment to community service, the organization named its Killeen police officer and firefighter of the year Monday.

The club named Killeen Fire Department Engineer Dale L. Cannon firefighter of the year and Killeen Police Department Officer Kristopher Dearing officer of the year.

“I am honored and humbled,” said Cannon, who has served at KFD for more than 33 years.

The organization gave plaques to Cannon and Dearing for their service. Their superiors at KFD and KPD nominated them to receive the awards.

“It was actually quite honoring,” Dearing said. “I thought my sergeant was joking when he brought it up at first.”

Dearing works in KPD’s traffic division as a motorcycle officer. He said he wanted to be a police officer all his life.

When he joined, he decided to meld his love of motorcycles with his public service job.

On the other hand, Cannon, 57, said he got into firefighting “by

accident.” After retiring from the U.S. Army in 1978, Cannon went to City Hall looking to become a police officer. He was told that no positions were open. As he began to leave, someone approached him about being a firefighter.

With a wife and family to take care of, he decided to take a chance and signed up.

“It is the best thing I ever did. I’ve enjoyed every minute as a firefighter,” he said.

Cannon’s specialty is driving a ladder truck, which is one of the hardest KFD vehicles to operate. He has certifications in various forms of firefighting and was named KFD’s firefighter of the year in 2010, 2004 and 2002. In 1987, KFD named him paramedic of the year.

Dearing, 33, said he could not explain his love of being a motorcycle officer.

The position requires a certain attention to detail because of the prestige bestowed upon motorcycle officers.

They must maintain the best appearances because they are fully visible at all times to the public. And one of their most important duties is leading funeral processions.

“I know it sounds cheesy, but I enjoy helping people,” he said.

Dearing also works at accident reconstruction for KPD.

The Exchange Club of Killeen is committed to Americanism, child abuse prevention, youth activities and community service, said club president Geraldine Lorio.

Former Killeen mayor and club treasurer Maureen Jouett presented the officer of the year award. Her husband and former KFD firefighter Richard Jouett presented the firefighter of the year award.