About Heart of Texas Public Safety Historical Center

Waco, Texas, has a rich cultural environment for the history of arts, sports, historic homes, libraries, Dr Pepper, the Texas Rangers, and more. These museums and centers allow locals and visitors alike to learn about Texas history and unique educational experiences. The Heart of Texas Public Safety Historical Center will add to this tapestry of museums and centers presenting an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about public safety in the Heart of Texas.

It's always been a close group because when you need help, somebody is there to take care of you.

Our Board of Trustees

From a board of eight trustees, the Heart of Texas Public Safety Historical Center was created by Waco locals and people who deeply care about bridging the past to the present looking to the future. Because of our dedication and commitment to honoring those who serve in public safety roles, we will share the history and evolution of public safety with the community and visitors in a public space, and provide an opportunity to learn the value of our public safety servants. Both visual and interactive exhibits and archives will allow our Historical Center to be a place of learning. We believe by offering an educational experience, we are sharing with visitors, the importance of public safety and an understanding of how it supports a safer future.

Brent Stroman


Brent served just under 40 years as a Waco police officer, the last 8 of those being the Chief. During his career, he worked in several departments, including Crime Prevention and Community Relations, was a liaison for the Department in WISD Adopt-A-School program, worked with neighborhood associations on crime and quality of life issues, and served on all types of community committees and groups. While serving as the Waco Police Chief, the Waco police officers and employees built a Waco Police Museum within the building, which inspired his desire to create a museum for the public. His heart was for a museum that builds on the history of fire, police, emergency medical responders, and emergency managers, thus beginning the creation of the Heart of Texas Public Safety Historical Center. Outside of his police career, Brent served as President of his Neighborhood Association, a deacon at his church, served several leadership roles in the Boy Scouts of America, is the Executive Director of the 100 Club Heart of Texas, which serves the families of first responders who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. In his personal life, Brent is involved with community projects, is married with two children and a grandchild, and enjoys spending time outside, cooking, and with his family.

Wilburn Willis


Wilburn Willis is our Vice Chair who is also tasked with our Donations, Collections, and Exhibits. He started his career in the United States Coast Guard before joining the Waco Police Department and serving as the City of Waco Plumbing and Mechanical Inspector. He also founded the Brothers and Sisters in Law Enforcement organization in June 2003 with only 60 members. Today, the organization holds nearly 400 members across the state of Texas. Wilburn has served his community by being a member of the West Brethren Church and as President and Vice President of SPJST #54 West. He joined our board to support having a historical center that will be easy for everyone to visit and learn from. In his free time, Wilburn enjoys attending sports events and helping people in the community in any way he can. He has lived a very exciting life and is proud to show how God has blessed him over the years. He hopes to continue to be a blessing to those around him. 

Chief Tom Dickson (Ret.)


Chief Dickson started his public service career in the EMS field and earned his Paramedic certification in 1980. In December of 1984, he started his career with the Hewitt Police Department. Chief Dickson then joined the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and was promoted through the ranks, retiring in 2010 as a Lieutenant in the Waco District. Chief Dickson was appointed Chief of the Lorena Police Department and served in this position for over 13 years. Chief Dickson also served as the Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Lorena and is currently on the Advisory Board for the McLennan Community College Law Enforcement Academy and is President of the Heart of Texas Fire Corps Association. He was also a member of the Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization Technical Advisory Committee and Past Vice-President of the Central Texas Area Chief of Police and Sheriff’s Association. Believing the history of first responders is important to the future generations of people living in and visiting McLennan County, Chief Dickson hopes to contribute and relay the intuitional knowledge of his over 40 years in the public safety field. In his personal life, Chief Dickson is married with two children and a grandchild and enjoys raising cattle on his family farm in McLennan County.

Otto Caldwell


Otto Caldwell is a trustee at the Heart of Texas Public Safety Historical Center. He decided to join the organization because of his desire to help and his love of photography, where he realized he could provide photos. While he has been the owner of Caldwell Electric for over 48 years, his hobbies brought him to start working with the Heart of Texas Public Safety Historical Center, as he has a lot of old Waco and police photos that document the history of public safety in Waco. Throughout his photography ventures, Otto has photos dating back years, as he began taking pictures in 1953. In his personal life, Otto and his wife Mollie have two children, Dr. Carrie Johnson and Electrical Engineer Hobie Caldwell. On top of loving photography in his free time, Otto is also active in HAM Radio.

Shirley Parker


Shirley Parker is our Recording Secretary. In 1972, Shirley received the Waco Police Association Scholarship and attended MCC and Baylor. In 1975, Shirley made the Baylor Dean’s Distinguished List and received her BS in Education. Five years later, Shirley received her MS in Education in 1980. She also received five TEA Certificates and Grade Level Chair-Kindergarten at Crestview Elementary WISD. Shirley spent forty-seven years in Education, including public school and Parent’s Day Out (former Austin Ave Methodist Church), and continues this work in substitute teaching. In her free time, Shirley sings in the church choir, leads singing at Sunday School every other week, and enjoys attending local luncheons. In her community, Shirley has volunteered for Friends for Life, served as Recording Secretary for Waco Police Museum Board, actively participates in the Shield-A-Badge program with her church by committing to pray for an assigned Policeman, Deputy, or Fireman for one year, and served as Recording Secretary for WMRTA – Waco McLennan County Retired Teachers Association. Shirley’s father was a Police Captain for almost 20 of his 32 years with Waco PD. She decided to join the board of HOT Public Safety Historical Center to continue her service as a trustee and to participate in a center that includes first responders.