Mark Clark’s tribute to Kirk Munden

Mark Clark

On Thursday, Dec. 1, in the late afternoon, I received word, like many others, that retired HPD Executive Assistant Chief Kirk Munden had suffered a critical head injury in his home earlier in the day.  The very first reports were shocking as it related to the severity of his injury.

Over the next few days, several us received updates on Kirk’s condition from retired HPD Senior Police Officer Paul Hershey.  Paul and his wife rushed to the hospital ICU and remained there with Kirk and his family throughout his treatment.

Paul was able to give a few of us first-hand accounts of Kirk’s condition. Unfortunately, in the early morning hours of Monday, Dec. 12, Kirk succumbed to his injury and passed away.

I was up early that Monday morning, as is my routine, when I received a phone call from Ray Hunt informing me of the tragic news about Kirk.  To say I was stunned is an understatement.  I’m not an emotional person and, unfortunately, over the years here at HPD, my skin is probably too thick.  That said, the news of Kirk’s death and the finality of what it meant was terribly emotional and almost impossible to process.

I was literally frozen as all the years, all the HPD/HPOU conversations, all the laughs, all the intensely personal conversations we shared, consumed me.  Like many others who knew Kirk, the sense of loss was bitter.

Kirk was, without question, an all-around great guy. He was a credit to HPD and the model that true leaders should aspire to emulate.  During my time here at HPD, my belief is that Kirk Munden was one of the very best operational leaders in the organization. Kirk was humble, serious, funny, smart as a whip, street smart, engaging, loaded with natural charisma, fairness, loyalty, and, of course, a hell of a physical specimen.

Kirk’s funeral service was, as I thought it would be, packed with HPD family and friends who were there for a great man and his family.

After the service, my first impulse was to leave as quickly as possible – but I didn’t.  I instead stayed and visited with longtime friends who, like me, still felt the gut-punch in the form of the news of Kirk not making it.

For me, the best part came last.  I sought out Kirk’s mother, Mrs. Darlene Munden Baughman, and had the opportunity to tell her what her son meant to me personally.

I told her that Kirk paid me one of the greatest compliments that I had ever received and because it came from him, it meant the world to me.

I told her that Kirk commiserated with me like no other following the sudden death of my mother in 2013.  I explained to her that Kirk helped me immensely by sharing his own story of overwhelming grief following his father’s death.

I told her that her son was a highly revered friend and co-worker to many and that his impact at HPD, as well as his impact on me personally, was profound.  Finally, I told her that that with all she has endured over the previous two weeks, I wanted her to know that she and her husband raised one heck of a man.