Police Officer Baptized by Couple He Used to Arrest

Kevin and Danielle Riley serve Mount Baker Presbyterian Church in Concrete, Washington. Source: Presbyterian Mission

Kevin Riley’s first interaction with Tom Wenzl was being pinned in a parking lot of a grocery store by the Mount Vermont police officer. Then a couple of weeks later Wenzl arrests Danielle Riley, Kevin Riley’s wife. 

“So, we did not have good interactions with Tom at all,” said Kevin. 

Kevin and his wife had issues with drug and alcohol abuse. Eventually, they cleaned and sobered up and are now commissioned lay pastors at Mount Baker Presbyterian Church in Concrete, about two hours northeast of Seattle. For Kevin instead of going to jail, he was working for the city of Mount Vernon on a work crew. 

Shortly afterward, Wenzl reentered his life after retiring from the force and taking over that work crew. Kevin said on his first day, he remembered praying incessantly, ‘God, help me get through this.’ 

Lucky for Kevin, Wenzl didn’t remember him until Kevin told him about his story and how he came to Christ. After hearing this, Wenzel places Kevin in charge of the crew. About two weeks later, Wenzl reminded Kevin that being on a work crew was like a jail sentence and that he had the ability to give Riley credit-based early release, known as a good time. 

After Kevin said he’d “love that,” Wenzl told him the next day would be his last and he’d never have to come back. After that, Wenzl said he and Riley just kind of kept staying in touch, and each time he remembers Kevin being really strong in his faith. 

“But it was always a neat relationship because he never shoved it down my throat,” Wenzl said. “He kept saying, ‘God is good and good things are happening.’  I’d say, “yeah, yeah, yeah, Kevin,” because I’d always done the right thing. I believe in Karma, you know.” 

As Kevin and his wife were getting ready to do a meeting at the Mount Baker Presbyterian Church about a homeless shelter they would be hosting, Kevin reached out to Wenzl and asked him to support him since he was doing the meeting alone in front of all these people. 

Wenzl did come and so moved by the service, he joined the church.

During COVID-19, the two only saw each other from time to time. One day, Wenzl told Kevin that he met someone and planned on marrying her. 

After telling his friend this, he also told Kevin, “I’ve decided to give my life over to Jesus, and I want to get baptized.” 

Riley said it was a beautiful day on the river the day he baptized Wenzl. When he came out of the water, Wenzel was sobbing. “From me arresting them to now they’re probably my best friends, it’s absolutely amazing,” Wenzel said.

Source: Presbyterian Mission