Updated

Finalist wants similar benefits as in Victoria

By HOLLY HUFFMAN

Eagle Staff Writer

VICTORIA — Police Chief Timothy Braaten was asked Monday to take the helm of the Bryan Police Department, but the veteran officer said he was not certain if he will accept the offer.

Braaten said he will only take the Bryan job if the city provides him with the same benefits — including vacation time and sick leave —that he has accrued over the past decade in the South Texas city.

If moving to Bryan means he will have to forfeit months of sick time, the 25-year chief said, then he won’t do it. Braaten, who says he is “happy” in Victoria, said less money and less benefits are a deal breaker.

“I feel like I have been around enough and have the experience enough — I don’t start at the bottom,” said Braaten, who has led the Victoria department for 10 years.

Bryan City Manager Mary Kaye Moore said she offered the job to Braaten on Monday and the two countered back and forth. Moore declined to detail the offers, but said they centered around salary, car allowance and other typical city employee benefits.

If Braaten doesn’t accept, the city will scrap its findings and begin a new search.

“When you move from an organization you put a lot of time in, you’ve got a lot of sick leave and vacation and things like that built up,” said Moore, noting that she was faced with similar decisions when she was offered the city manager’s post in Bryan.

“That’s not part of what was offered, but I respect him for wanting that,” she said.

Braaten, the sole finalist for the post, plans to discuss his options with his family and make a decision Tuesday, according to a press release issued by Bryan.

And he had another pressing matter to deal with Monday: He spent much of the day working with emergency management officials in Victoria County to prepare for the possibility of a hurricane making its way to the Texas coast.

Bryan has been without a police chief since Ken Burton resigned in February to lead the Haltom City Police Department. Three months later, Bryan hired a Dallas-based consulting firm that presented the city with a list of 15 potential candidates.

That list was narrowed to four finalists: Braaten, 56; DeSoto Police Chief William Brodnax, 53; Port Arthur Police Chief Melbourne “Duke” Gorris, 58; and Todd Miller, 47, the chief in White Bear Lake, Minn.

Braaten said he learned of the opening after receiving a flyer from the consulting firm. Similar flyers are often sent to his department and he generally posts them for his employees. But, intrigued by economic opportunities and new challenges in Bryan, Braaten said he kept the flyer for himself.

After uprooting his family several times throughout his career, Braaten said he and his wife have decided they will only move to locations their children will want to come visit. Bryan has nearby Texas A&M University as a selling point, he said.

The chief said Monday he still would like to become Bryan’s next police chief if he and Moore can “work out everything.” He is not actively seeking a job anywhere else, he added.

If he does not accept the post, Braaten said he would like to stay in Victoria for another six to seven years until he retires. There are still new challenges to be tackled in Victoria, including the fact 16 veteran officers have expressed a desire to retire over the next four to six years. Three of those already have retired during the past nine months, he said.

“We’ve got a big job to do,” he said.

Victoria County Sheriff Mike Ratcliff said he has worked with Braaten for the past decade and learned much from him during that time. Ratcliff, who has worked for the sheriff’s department for 25 years, took office as sheriff at the same time Braaten took the helm of the Victoria Police Department.

Professionally, Ratcliff said, the chief has shown him the importance of providing “top notch” customer service within a police agency. Personally, Braaten has demonstrated the importance of integrity, he said.

Ratcliff said Braaten often tells him: “You stay on that high moral ground and you’ll win.”

The two depend on each other for advice. If Braaten moves, Ratcliff said he will miss their daily interactions, but he knows that the chief is just a phone call away.

“His desire and intent is to go to Bryan,” Ratcliff said. “The city of Bryan will be receiving a quality police executive.”

• Holly Huffman’s e-mail address is hhuffman@theeagle.com.

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