In police lingo, code 7-10 means “out of service.” That’s where Great Bend Detective Terry Millard will be after this week. Millard is retiring after 23 years with the Great Bend Police Department and more than 30 years in law enforcement.
The GBPD will host a retirement reception for Millard from 2-4 p.m. Friday at the Great Bend Municipal Courtroom. Chief Dean Akings said it will be the first time an officer has retired since he came to the department in 1977.
“He’s been an asset to the department for all these years,” Akings said of Millard, noting the detective is also in charge of evidence collection. “It’s going to be hard to replace the 23 years of experience that he has.”
“I’m originally from the area,” said Millard, who graduated from Hoisington High School in 1967. However, he joined the Army in 1970 and did not return for 20 years.
While serving in the Army he was stationed in Turkey and then Germany, where he worked as a medic at a hospital and drove an ambulance. He also met his wife, Barbara. (Last August they celebrated their 39th anniversary.) Millard then left the military, but Barbara remained in the service when they moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
“A lot of younger people get into fields wanting to help other, to make a difference,” he said. “Cops are the same way. You know you’re not going to make a million dollars.”
The first of their three children was born in 1978, and in 1979 the Millards moved to Maryland. His wife was still active military, and he worked with the Federal Protective Service at Fort George G. Meade. “I started as a patrolman in 1980 and left in 1987 as a lieutenant,” he said. “Then we moved to El Paso.”
He was with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office for three years, but when his wife prepared to leave the military they started looking at law enforcement jobs in Barton County. Millard applied with the Hoisington Police Department, Barton County Sheriff’s Office and Great Bend Police Department. Great Bend was the first to respond.
His first day was June 6, 1990. Like all new employees at the GBPD, he started as a patrol officer. He was promoted to corporal in 1992 and to sergeant in 1993. In 1996 he transferred to the detective division.
Looking back, Millard recalled some of the biggest police cases since 1990. He was on patrol in 1992 the night Gene Horyna tried to kill a pregnant woman, in what turned out to be a murder-for-hire scheme instigated by the woman’s husband, Terrill Schinstock. The most troubling cases of all were when things happened to children, including the murder of 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt in 2010.
The one that still haunts him and others at the department is the unsolved double homicide of Mandi Alexander and Mary A. Drake, who were killed at the Dolly Madison bakery outlet in 2002.
“That’s my biggest regret, that we haven’t been able to clear that case,” he said, adding the investigation is still going on. “I just did a couple of interviews,” although the leads are scarce at this point. “I’ve even done a little bit of work on the Roberta Klotz case.” That unsolved murder occurred in 1987, but improved technology has prompted investigators to take a new look at DNA evidence.
In a job that is different every single day, Millard said the work has run the gamut of highs and lows. He tells fellow officers they can never become complacent. He remembers when two fellow GBPD officers responded to a hit-and-run report on Jan. 1, 2007, and Officer Rob Weber was shot by a man who then turned the gun on himself. Weber’s bulletproof vest saved his life.
In addition to his work at the GBPD, Millard coached youth baseball teams for many years. He also became the first president of the county-wide Fraternal Order of Police #23, when the organization was re-chartered in the 1990s. The group’s annual projects include sponsoring holiday food baskets and a shopping trip every December for children waiting to be matched to a mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters. The FOP also recently bought a new flagpole for the police department, and made a donation for the purchase of equipment at the Child Advocacy Center.
Millard’s plans for retirement include traveling, visiting his four grandsons and tackling a few honey-do projects. “I haven’t painted the house in a few years,” he said.
“We’ve really enjoyed being back home,” Millard said. “I want to thank the City and the citizens of Great Bend for the opportunity to have served them.”