IRVING, Texas — Officer Stephen Burres III of the Irving Police Department has logged 32 years in law enforcement. Over that time, he's built a reputation and a long list of nicknames. The police veteran is sure to keep an eye on the animal control calls just as often as his normal calls on the midnight patrol shift.
"Officer Burres is our 'snake whisperer' for sure," laughed fellow officer, Robert Reeves.
In August, the Temple native was dispatched to an apartment complex for a "four-foot python." It would end up being an eight-foot red tail boa named "Bonnie" who went missing 11 days earlier.
"The dispatcher sent me a message on my computer and said, 'Are you feeling brave tonight?'" said Burres.
Burres grew up with a creek behind his house and witnessed hundreds of snakes in and around the property. He also remembers going rattle-snake hunting as a kid. He told WFAA he's never really feared snakes and has a lot of respect for them.
Not everyone in most police departments would jump to handle a missing snake call.
"Heck no!" Reeves laughed. "A snake is a snake is a snake, and that's a definition of a snake for me. They're good over there and I'm good over here."
Irving PD released Burres' bodycam video, showing him carefully handle the boa while it slithered in the parking lot of the apartment complex. At one point, the snake got comfortable enough to drape over his gun belt, wrap around his arm and rest its head on top of Burres' head.
Officer Burres was in his element. He's handled and relocated around 50 snakes over three decades on the job.
"I just never had a fear of them. I always respected them," said Burres.
He has an uncanny ability and poise to read, sense and diffuse the situation, whether that's an animal control call or a DWI stop.
"We're trained to not go rushing in. Rushing in is reckless and rushing in can get you hurt," said Reeves.
The boa was relocated to a refuge because it was over six-feet long and not indigenous to Texas.
"I'm part game warden, part trooper, all Irving PD," laughed Burres.