By George Slaughter
Katy will soon have a new police chief following the retirement of Chief Bill Hastings, who on Tuesday announced his intention to retire after a 43-year public safety career. His retirement takes effect January 15.
Hastings said in an interview Wednesday that his decision came after much deliberation and discussions with family and close friends.
“You work all your life to retire, and the closer it gets, the scarier it gets,” Hastings said. “It was a long process for me to decide, and pull the trigger, and put in for retirement. It’s time to move on to a new chapter in the book.”
Mayor Chuck Brawner, who learned of the chief’s decision Monday, had praise for Hastings.
“I’ve known him for a number of years, and he’s always done a very good job,” Brawner said. “He decided it was time to move on. I understand that. I did it myself several years ago. I wish him the best.”
As for finding a successor, Brawner said the city’s human resources department must post the job opening, which will likely happen after the holiday. Resumes must then be collected and reviewed before Brawner and others, as necessary, begin the interview process.
In Katy’s city government, the police chief reports directly to the mayor, as do the fire chief and city administrator. The city council must approve the appointment.
Meanwhile, Brawner said, Hastings has a command staff in place that can keep things running smoothly until a permanent chief is hired.
“We have good talent within the police department, and they surely have an opportunity when the position gets posted by the human resources department,” Brawner said. “They’ve been here for a long time and they know what the citizens of Katy need in the ways of law enforcement. They’ve got good talent already there. Surely, they will keep everything going in the right direction.”
Hastings is the third police chief in Katy’s history. The first chief, Pat Adams, hired Hastings in December 1986 for the police department. Hastings worked his way through the ranks. In 2009, then-mayor Don Elder, Jr., appointed Hastings chief.
Hastings succeeded R.L. “Buddy” Frazier, who had held the job for 13 years. Frazier died in August.
Elder said Frazier and Hastings worked together for a long time before Frazier stepped down and Hastings became chief.
“If you have good people aboard, you try to keep continuity,” Elder said. “There was a big insight to keep that continuity. Bill had worked very well with officers under him.”
Elder said he had seen situations where someone would be brought in from the outside, and it didn’t work. Elder said, Hastings had done a good job and had a good record.
“I knew what he had done beforehand,” Elder said. “He had done things before he came to Katy. He’s a professional, he’s a person who has done a lot of excellent work with other police entities. That was one of the key things, how strong they are. He has a loyalty to officers yet is able to evaluate situations that come about. He will evaluate to a point where he wants to do right thing whatever it is.”
Elder, who served as mayor from 2007-2013, said he enjoyed working with Hastings during his time as mayor.
“He kept me informed about situations that took place,” Elder said. “I wouldn’t find out about a situation from the media, or the outside, or from a patron. I appreciated that. What any employee needs to is get with his supervisor and make him aware of situations before they come out otherwise. It’s kind of a blindside when you don’t know what’s going on or what happened. I appreciated his professionalism.”
Fabol Hughes, who served as mayor from 2013-2017, also had praise for Hastings.
“We had a great relationship with him,” Hughes said. “Everybody liked him. He did a wonderful job. He stayed out of people’s way. He delegates and lets people do their job. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.”
Before joining the police department, Hastings was a volunteer with the Katy Ambulance Service and the Katy Volunteer Fire Department.