A deputy with the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office who was killed in the line of duty was given an emotional farewell filled with both tears and laughter as fellow officers and family members remembered Glenn R. Hilliard as a man of integrity, discipline and courage with a strong faith in God.
“It was a tremendous loss within our family,” Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis said during a funeral at Emmanuel Wesleyan Church on Tuesday. “Glenn Hilliard is at peace in the loving arms of God.”
During the service, held one day before what would have been Hilliard’s 42nd birthday, Lewis announced he had posthumously promoted Hilliard from Deputy First Class to Corporal. He also awarded him the Sheriff’s Office Medal of Valor, which he presented to Hilliard’s wife, Tashica.
Hilliard’s family also was presented with a diploma from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore that he never received.
Lewis said Hilliard excelled at his job and set an example for others to follow. He became a role model for younger deputies, and taught them “the meaning of pride,” Lewis said.
Following Hilliard’s death, Lewis said he spent a lot of time with the deputy’s family. “We’ve laughed, we’ve cried and we share an unbreakable bond,” he told them. “You’re my family. You’re my family.”
Hilliard joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2012. Before that he served in the Berlin and Crisfield police departments. He also had worked as a seasonal police officer in Ocean City and as an instructor for Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy.
Born Richmond and then raised in Newark, N.J., Hilliard was adopted as a 4-year-old.
Pastor Dana Bunting-Stauffer said the deputy’s mother often told the story of collecting him from the adoption agency where he carried a bag of clothing in one hand and two toy police cars in the other.
“He took pride in what he did,” she said.
Co-workers at the Sheriff’s Office remembered Hilliard not only as a dedicated law enforcement officer, but also as someone who loved technology, including operating the department’s drones and running the audio-visual equipment at Lighthouse Church of God in Berlin where his father-in-law, the Rev. Theophilus Hobbs III, is the pastor.
He also knew how to replace broken iPad screens and replace iPhone batteries. While most of the repairs went perfectly, one attempt went horribly wrong, said Detective Chip Oakley.
Hilliard, Oakley recalled, attempted to remove the back of an iPhone when it emitted a puff of smoke and then burst into flames. The phone spewed out black smoke and Hilliard dropped it on the office’s new carpet, before they managed to get it outside the building onto the concrete.
“I said, ‘Man, that was awesome,’ and he looked at me and said, ‘Man, that was your phone,’” Oakley relayed to a laughing audience in the church.
Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing called Hilliard “smooth-looking, tough and ready to go.”
Other friends remembered him as the life of the party, a New York Yankees fan and as “a religious man, but also a connoisseur of Fireball whiskey.”
Tributes also came from Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford representing Gov. Larry Hogan who is traveling in Europe on an economic development mission.
Hilliard was “one of our true heroes,” Rutherford said.
“It’s not just a job, it’s a daily act of selfless service,” he said.
Although Hogan is out of the country, he posted his own tribute on social media.
“We owe a profound debt to those brave, proud members of the thin blue line who selflessly place themselves in harm’s way and do so willingly so that our communities can be safer,” Hogan said.
“I ask all Marylanders to continue to pray for Deputy Hilliard’s family that they find comfort and strength during this difficult time. We pray that they find solace knowing that Glenn died a true hero and that his sacrifice will not ever be forgotten,” he said.
Hundreds of police officers from departments across Maryland and Delaware filled seats inside the church, while others watched the service on a big screen outside. The service also was live-streamed by the funeral home and local television stations.
Earlier in the morning, Hilliard’s casket had a police escort as it was transferred from the Lewis N. Watson Funeral Home in Salisbury to the church.
Following the two-and-a-half-hour service, a long procession of police cars followed the hearse for interment in Sunset Memorial Park in Berlin.
Hilliard was shot and killed at an apartment complex in Pittsville on Sunday, June 12, while attempting to apprehend a fugitive who was wanted on multiple felony warrants in multiple jurisdictions.
The suspect, later identified as Austin Jacob Allen Davidson, 20, of Delmar, was captured late Sunday night.
Davidson remains in custody without bond at the Wicomico County Detention Center on charges of murder, assault, reckless endangerment and felony firearm use in a violent crime.
Hilliard is survived by his wife, Tashica Hilliard, and three children, De'Aijah Hobbs, Jersi Hilliard and Trenton Hilliard.