Congratulations to Mr. Jeff Garner, Class of 1991, who has been named the recipient of the 2022 Fort Worth Christian School Alumni of the Year award. Jeff will be honored at the Homecoming game this Friday night. The on-field presentation will be made at the end of the 1st quarter and also streamed live at www.fwclive.tv.
Jeff truly embodies the vision of Fort Worth Christian for a life of faith, service, and leadership for Christ. He serves not only the North Richland Hills community, but also the FWC community, as he and the North Richland Hills Police Department protect us.
Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Abilene Christian University and a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of North Texas. Jeff is a proud graduate of the 85th School of Police Supervision and the 49th Management College of the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration. Jeff is also a graduate of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Leadership in Police Organizations course, the 65th session of the PERF Senior Management Institute for Police, and the 254th session of the F.B.I. National Academy.
“After college, I moved to Steamboat Springs, CO, where I spent three years working in the ski industry,” said Garner. “I had been the ski trip director for my social club at ACU, and this led to a job offer and a complete departure from my plans to attend law school. I spent those three years doing what many would consider a dream job, but was unhappy and needed a greater sense of purpose. This led me to move back to North Richland Hills and pursue a career in law enforcement.”
Jeff began his law enforcement career in 1998 with the North Richland Hills Police Department, where he continues to serve today, presently as the Assistant Chief over the Management Services Bureau. Operationally, Chief Garner has held the positions of motorcycle officer, accident investigator, patrol officer, shift sergeant, shift commander and division commander. Additionally, he spent 9 years on SWAT, serving in the capacity of officer, team leader and commander. Administratively, Chief Garner’s experience includes Training, Professional Standards and Internal Affairs, Criminal Investigations, and Technical Services.
Chief Garner has a primary interest in community and service-based policing, including the development of intervention-based strategies. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Officer of the Year, Supervisor of the Year, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart Distinguished Service Award. He is a certified defensive tactics and firearms instructor and holds a Master Peace Officer license.
“My career has not been free from tragedy or sorrow, but God has provided me with experiences that have shaped my path and increased my capacity for empathy and service,” added Garner. “My bio speaks to some of the positions I have held, but a hallmark of my career was the 6 years I spent on motorcycles. After promoting to sergeant, I spent 5 years leading our department’s Training Section. As a lieutenant, I spent 4 years in Professional Standards, where I was responsible for drafting policy and helping steer the culture and vision of our organization.” Jeff rewrote the use of force policy and implemented a critical decision-making model, which forms the basis for all decision-making within the department. This served as the foundation for what became the department’s guiding philosophy, which is SHIELD: Service, Honor, Integrity, Ethics, the sanctity of all human Life, and De-escalation. This program was recognized internationally by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and nationally, by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Destination Zero program. “SHIELD serves as the foundation for everything we do at the North Richland Hills Police Department,” said Garner, “and internally reinforces our commitment to service and ethical policing focused on resolution rather than mere enforcement.
Beyond work, Jeff enjoys riding and racing his bicycle and watching his son play baseball. Jeff is married to Babith, a school counselor in Keller ISD. This October they will celebrate 20 years of marriage. They have one son, Levi, who started FWC in Pre-K and is now in the 7th grade at Fort Worth Christian. “We are thrilled and thankful more than ever for the role FWC has played in his life and the deep friendships has developed here,” added Garner. “Levi loves anything that involves a ball, which those who knew me in school will enjoy, as I was the complete opposite, having never really participated in sports at FWC.”
When asked about what he loves most about FWC, Jeff stated clearly it is about the people and the relationships. “There is a focus and an intentionality among the people at Fort Worth Christian that is not as prevalent in other environments. When you surround yourselves with people of purpose, your own standards and objectives are also raised. Relationships built on this type of foundation just run deeper and challenge you to do more and be more. One experience really drove this home for me. I actually left FWC at the start of my junior year. I was interested in playing tennis and FWC didn't have a program at the time, so I transferred to a local public high school. In many ways, it was a sort of homecoming as I returned to friends I had grown up with. I did not even last a full week. While there were surely exceptions, the overarching atmosphere was one lacking in purpose or focus. In contrast and without exception, all of my peers at FWC were purpose-driven. They had a path and were moving towards goals. That was both because they were people of faith and because they had a sense of purpose. I cannot overstate the value of growing up in this type of environment.”
The teachers who most inspired Jeff were Drs. Larry Calvin, Maryann Felps, and Rick Kempe. For each of these teachers, Jeff had the following reflection:
“Not unlike Jesus, Dr. Calvin pursued me until I was willing to accept his unconditional love and support. I had a rebellious streak and Dr. Calvin pursued me until I just gave that up and accepted the positive opportunities I had available.
“Dr. Felps nurtured this love within me and brought focus to it. I cannot sufficiently communicate how much influence she had on me and how her mentorship helped me navigate the emotions and challenges we face in our teenage years while we are establishing our personalities and purpose in life.”
“Dr. Kempe saw the potential in me and he challenged me to be better in a way I was willing to accept. In my senior year, he was instrumental in selecting me for the William Danforth "I Dare You" award. All these years later, I still attribute that award as the catalyst for any degree of success I have had since. Dr. Kempe acknowledged my value and taught me I could make a difference if I was only willing to confront vulnerability by stepping beyond my comfort zones. Amazingly, I now have the opportunity to work with him in his current role with the Birdville Independent School District, which is quite the honor for me.”
While at FWC, Jeff was involved with Teens for Christ for 3 years and all 4 on Student Council.
When asked about the impact FWC could have on future Cardinals, Jeff notes lifetime friendships as well as how FWC prepares students with faith, habits, and ethics to shape their impact on the world. “What lasts is success in the form of living a life with purpose and having an impact on others. FWC provides a culture that promotes and acknowledges such clarity of focus and service to others.”
As someone who humbly lives a life of faith, service, and leadership, we proudly recognize Jeff Garner ‘91 as the 2022 Fort Worth Christian Alumni of the Year!