McLennan County Sheriff’s Office loses chief deputy to retirement

McLennan County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy David Kilcrease
McLennan County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy David Kilcrease(Courtesy Photo)
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 4:10 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A week after announcing his bid for a fourth term in office, McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara finds himself in the market for a new chief deputy with the retirement of David Kilcrease.

Kilcrease, 64, said Wednesday that he and McNamara have been discussing his impending retirement for some time now. However, his retirement announcement Monday, which was effective immediately, combined with the number of sheriff’s office employees who have left recently had many wondering.

Kilcrease cited health concerns as the primary reason for his retirement, saying a bout with COVID-19 “attacked the valves in my heart” and caused life-altering damage.

“I need to step away and let the sheriff’s office do what the sheriff’s office needs to do,” Kilcrease said. “I don’t need the stress of another political campaign. But I will absolutely support Parnell McNamara in his campaign, and if he calls upon me to help in any way, I’ll do whatever I can for him. Parnell is my friend, Parnell has done great things for me, and I think I have done great things for the sheriff’s office. There are things going on with myself that I need to take care of. I am going to miss it. But at the same time, I have to be alive to miss it.”

McNamara hired Kilcrease as chief deputy just over seven years ago, filling the slot left behind by retired Texas Ranger Matt Cawthon, who resigned in October 2014 after a major falling out with the sheriff.

Kilcrease worked for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years and served nine years in the Air Force.

He said he specifically asked that no retirement party be thrown for him, saying he has never been about tooting his own horn or making things about himself.

“It’s been an honor to work for Parnell McNamara and to serve the citizens of McLennan County,” Kilcrease said. “I am stepping away for my health, but we did a lot of positive things and the citizens and their pocketbooks are much better off because of it.”

Specifically, Kilcrease cited the efforts of the sheriff’s office and county commissioners to take back the operation of the Jack Harwell Detention Center, which was run for years by a private, for-profit detention corporation.

“We did some fantastic things, and they were doing some fantastic things before I got here,” Kilcrease said. “I don’t know of a single agency in the state of Texas that was able to move an active private jail company out of their county. Once those folks get their hooks in you, they stay forever.”

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara
McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara(CBN News)

McNamara’s office has lost quite a few veteran officers in the past few years, including the jail administrator and three jail captains, who simultaneously retired in March 2022 with a combined 117 years of law enforcement experience.

Other experienced officers also have left in recent months and are said to be supporting a former sheriff’s office employee who is considering a run against McNamara.

McNamara, 76, said Kilcrease will be missed, adding that everyone who works must make the decision at some point about when to retire.

“Some go out with a retirement party and some go out in a box,” McNamara said. “I consider David a good friend and he did a good job.”