Tommy Eddie Hill is a fighter and a worker.
In 2015, he was content to retire from a law enforcement career that started when he was a 16-year-old police dispatcher in Uvalde. In fact, Hill went home to Uvalde.
Then he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017.
Hill went from a robust 245 pounds to 145 pounds in a matter of months. He decided to liquidate some of his retirement to pay for the surgeries and treatments, and he was able to fight off the disease.
“It took me six months to gain 2 pounds,” Hill said. “I was ecstatic.”
Now he’s back at 240 pounds, and he’s working again — this time in the Kerr County Jail, which is one of the places where he started his law enforcement career. However, Hill wants to finish out his law enforcement service as the Kerr County Sheriff — succeeding a man he’s known most of his life, Rusty Hierholzer.
“I’ve got a second chance,” Hill said after defeating cancer. “I said let’s go back into law enforcement.”
As a 19-year-old, Hill found his way into a corrections deputy position with the Kerr County Sheriff’s Department and his career has wound its way through various agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, where he worked narcotics because of his ability to speak Spanish.
His career includes stints with Kerr County, working with the DEA, working in Ingram, and working for the state. It’s been his whole life.
He worked cases against the Mexican Mafia and other criminal organizations in his time, but he’s also worked in prisons, including a private contractor. In 2004, he went to work for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Beeville, where he worked in the maximum security prison.
It’s this broad experience that Hill says makes him qualified to replace Hierholzer, who has made it clear that maintaining the county’s jail will be the top priority for anyone who succeeds him.
“I bring a lot of experience and that’s what you’re going to need with the narcotics problem we have here,” Hill said.
In his estimation, methamphetamine use is still one of the biggest problems in the Hill Country. He’s also pragmatic when it comes to enforcement.
“You’re going to make a dent in it, but you’re probably never going to fully stop it,” said the 56-year-old Hill. “It’s the truth.”
However, his career has circled back ultimately to jails and prisons. Hill is already working in that system, along with his son, who is a corrections deputy, at the Kerr County jail. So, he has an insider’s look at what is working in the jail.
“Rusty has the right people in the right places,” Hill said of the current jail management.
Hill’s experience in the jails has included managing budgets and keeping track of the inmates. During his work for a private prison, Hill reworked a use-of-force policy for the company.
During a recent police forum, Hill made it clear that he was qualified for the position due to this work. He also said the department needs to upgrade technology because of the need to serve all of Kerr County. New radios and in-vehicle computers would be a key improvement, Hill said.