Police Chief Chronicles VIII: Stolen Valor


OPINION — In February 1991, I was assigned to the last position B-52G in a six-plane, nighttime sortie against one of Saddam Hussein’s weapons depots in Karbala, Iraq.

The lead planes’ bombs seemingly awakened all of Iraq. So much anti-aircraft artillery was blasting right below us it looked like you could walk on it. The middle four planes dropped their bombs, and we were to finish the strike.

As we turned towards the target, my Electronic Warfare Officer screamed, “I’ve got an SA-3 at 10 o’clock!” To this surface-to-air missile, our B-52G was vulnerable. But, being 30 seconds to bomb release, we stayed the course.

From directly beside us, the most violent explosion I have ever experienced rocked our airplane. The jet jerked upward. Our gunner reached for his ejection arming levers. We were at 35,000 feet as the nose began to fall downward. But, somehow, the plane held together, and we leveled off in time to fulfill our mission by taking out the final line of buildings storing Saddam's bombs.

Don’t get me wrong, worse incidents happened all the time over Iraq to braver souls than myself. I didn’t expect a medal for that night. It was part of the job.

Yet today, if someone were investigating my combat experience and made a FOIA request of the U.S. Air Force, asking about someone shooting at me, they’d come up empty-handed.

Is that lack of paperwork the only evidence required to go online and accuse me, or anyone, of the crime of stolen valor?

That night over Karbala, Iraq, was more than 33 years ago, around the same time Mike Hernandez joined the San Angelo Police Department.

As this police chief election got underway, Mrs. Kat Rowlodt, who runs one-person website about local right wing politics requested interviews with the candidates. It is worth noting that, on her site, her archives show no original articles have been published since July of 2021. She has re-appeared recently to shill for Hernandez's opponent, Travis Griffith, in the police chief election.

Mrs. Kat Rowlodt - Facebook profile photo

Mrs. Kat Rowlodt - Facebook profile photo

Candidate Mike Hernandez agreed to sit down for an on-camera interview with Mrs. Rowlodt. Afterwards, during a casual, unrecorded conversation, Hernandez estimated he has been shot at 11 times over the course of his career. That’s awful, but it’s not really surprising since he spent 20 years on the SWAT team and was in the gang unit in the harrowing 1990s.

However, Rowlodt later filed a request with the City of San Angelo for records of each time Hernandez was shot at. As you can surmise, this was not a realistic request. There wouldn’t necessarily be records of each event. Older incidents would be in paper reports long-ago stored in boxes in some basement. And the more recent, digital reports of the incidents wouldn’t be filed as, “Mike Hernandez was shot at during this incident.” The City told her they couldn’t fulfill her request. Now she complains this is because the City is hiding records as part of a conspiracy to protect Hernandez.

Rowlodt's post on Facebook complaining of "Stray Bullets" and casting doubt on Mike Hernandez's herosim.

Rowlodt's post on Facebook complaining of "Stray Bullets" and casting doubt on Mike Hernandez's herosim.

Rowlodt's Facebook post suggesting the current Police Chief Frank Carter and candidate for police chief Lt. Mike Hernandez are liars.

Rowlodt's Facebook post suggesting the current Police Chief Frank Carter and candidate for police chief Lt. Mike Hernandez are liars.

Rowlodt's Facebook post complaining that no one at the City will confirm Mike Hernandez was shot 11 times.

Rowlodt's Facebook post complaining that no one at the City will confirm Mike Hernandez was shot 11 times.

With nothing else to justify her premise, Rowlodt began posting a series of “stream of consciousness” articles, eight at last count, in which she uses innuendo and insinuations to say everything short of coming right out and declaring Hernandez a liar.

It is difficult to excuse this as anything but an intentional smear. Because if Rowlodt really had any interest in learning the truth, it’s not hard to verify Hernandez’s stories. Like guys flying in formations of combat aircraft, police are never solo operators.

Before dishonoring what Hernandez and his family have endured in defense of our community, Rowlodt could have simply asked people who were involved. She didn’t, so I did. I asked multiple current or former San Angelo Police Department officers. My conclusion is that based solely on the incidents they were party to, Hernandez was undercounting.

For example, while Hernandez was working in the gang unit, he and his partner were in an unmarked car in the crossfire in front of a drug house when a drive-by shooting started from the street behind them. No fewer than 34 slugs were found embedded into the exterior of the house and gathered for evidence. Even if you divide by the two officers, that’s 17 rounds each. Many other incidents were relayed to me as well.

I was also told about the care and effort Hernandez and the other members of the SWAT team put into preventing gunfire. One officer told me he had, “busted down so many doors with Hernandez that he lost count”. But very rarely did they have to resort to—or shield from—gunfire.

My point is, Mike Hernandez has been shot at. A lot. And still, he goes back to work.

Hernandez hasn’t dignified any of her disparaging articles with a response. And he shouldn’t have to. It is unconscionable to question someone about how many bullets they have faced in our defense. We are blessed in this country that there are brave souls who will voluntarily put their lives on the line for our safety and protection. Yet, many places across the nation we see different factions doing all they can to disparage and demoralize our heroes, be they law enforcement or those serving in the military. We can’t allow this to be the case in San Angelo.

We choose with a strong conviction to elect our police chief in San Angelo. If we believe that we as voters can provide the best result for our community, then we assume the responsibility to be discerning voters. We cannot reward dishonesty by casting uninformed votes.

At the same time, we owe it to the men and women of the SAPD to do all we can to encourage civility in these police chief election campaigns. If the opportunity for potential political advantage by falsely quibbling about heroic actions of an opponent becomes more important than the fraternity amongst police officers, then the shield that protects us will crack. We have to protect those who have spent their careers protecting us. Otherwise, and soon, we won’t have anyone left to answer the call.

Election Day for the runoff to decide who will be San Angelo's next police chief is Saturday, June 15. Two candidates are in the runoff: Mike Hernandez and Travis Griffith. The winner will fulfill a three-year term. I hope San Angelo chooses well and that these Police Chief Chronicles provided truth, humor, and context to help voters make their own and best decision.

About this piece:

In the wild and wacky world of police chief elections, where candidates are more hostile than a porcupine in a balloon factory, the San Angelo LIVE! Publisher Joe Hyde has taken it upon himself to pen a multi-piece exposé. This thrilling saga dives into the history of San Angelo police chief elections since the 2000s, aiming to not only entertain you but also explain why these elections are as tricky as herding cats. Reporting on them? Well, that’s a whole other rodeo, where friendships end faster than a celebrity marriage. Next, brace yourself to learn about information warfare with chemical munitions and all about the Good 'Ol Boys who want to decide this election.

  1. Police Chief Chronicles I: Pinched in the Buttocks
  2. Police Chief Chronicles II: The Smartest Guy Doesn't Always Win the Election
  3. Police Chief Chronicles III: How Hernandez Loses
  4. Police Chief Chronicles IV: Meet the Good 'Ol Boys
  5. Police Chief Chronicles V: Shilling for the Government
  6. Police Chief Chronicles VI: Chemical Munitions
  7. Police Chief Chronicles VII: Timmy 2.0
  8. Police Chief Chronicles VIII: Stolen Valor


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It sucks that Space Force vets can't talk about any of their experiences serving — least of all those events that happened before the branch went public. Imagine seeing the complex below the ruins of Cydonia but never being allowed to tell the tale...

To know that the old Martians were the brightest and gentlest of creatures would be quite a burden, especially in light of the long and complex series of political (!) events that led to the conditons that shaped prehistoric humanity up to the present day. But that would blow the public's mind.

I’ve been known to embellish my military career, but only to impress chicks. Yeah it might be stolen valor but I am a veteran and I demand to be thanked for my service. You’re welcome America.

We all dodge death everyday when we leave our homes.

Its bad enough when you have individuals falsely claiming to be veterans.

Being a cop, you are going to be a target now and then, big cities a lot more, so what.

I would say if you were to brag about being shot at then most folks would be more impressed that you took out the bad guy, than how many times you dodged death. 

Being able to dodge death is a prerequisite for dating certain women — and not just the Silurian mantis women from prehistoric Earth. Those physical forms you see aboard their present day craft are just projections into this dimension that they manifest now that their species has evolved beyond physical reality.

"Being able to dodge death is a prerequisite for dating certain women." 

So how is it you happen to know my last ex-wife?


Was it the same woman? Alternatively, it could have been anyone from roughly 50% of the population of Louisiana. Survival of the gator-proof.

I didn't know that being shot at was a requirement for the Police Chief job in San Angelo. Is the qualification requirement for the Animal Control job being bit?


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