By George Slaughter
Hastings said the city’s growth, and the budget required to meet the needs coming from that, will be Tyler’s biggest challenges going forward.
“We can’t fight the growth, but the city is going to have to monitor closely the needs of fire service, emergency management and the police,” Hastings said. “The growth is so fast that this has to be monitored not just on a yearly basis, but on a six-month basis. They’re going to have to keep the staffing up and keep these three departments the help they need. The same goes for public works.”
Like their fire department counterparts, the police department faces competition in recruiting and retaining the best people for the job. Tyler said Katy has implemented some measures, such as sign-up bonuses and certificate pay, to compete for that talent. Certificate pay applies as officers earn certificates for years of service.
“On the last budget, the council was very nice and gave us slots for new officers,” Tyler said, adding that it takes time for an officer to go through the initial stages of testing, background checks, and training.
“We’re talking 10-12 months before you have someone you can actually put on the street,” Tyler said.
One program that will continue is the Citizens Police Academy, which begins on February 21. The 15 people who attend must undergo background checks as part of the training, similar to what police officers must undergo. The training itself consists of one three-hour course each week for 10 weeks.
Last year, the Katy Citizens Police Academy had its first graduating class.
“They go over everything we do in the department,” Tyler said, including such activities as investigations, traffic situations, firearms, and law enforcement. “The people who go through the academy have some idea of the life of a police officer.”
Tyler has been assistant chief for 10 years and an officer with the department for 27 years. In an interview at his retirement ceremony last week, Hastings praised Tyler’s abilities and experience.
“He knows my job inside and out,” Hastings said. “Our personalities are a little bit different but our philosophies of management and community service and safety are the same. The Katy Police Department is a culture that has been handed down over many years. Tim is more than able to carry that on. The Katy Police Department will not miss a beat on Wednesday morning when I’m not there.”
Tyler said he’s worked with all three police chiefs that the city has had: Pat Adams, R.L. “Buddy” Frazier, and Hastings, and has learned from all three.
One of Tyler’s first goals as chief is to revamp the department’s policies and procedures. He and his staff will work with through the Texas Police Chiefs Association, headquartered in Elgin—near Austin—to do this.
“It’s not like an accreditation, but to get recognized within the state,” Tyler said. “It’s just with changing times that it’s something that has to be done.”
Tyler said he had some other goals he’d like to implement for the department, but added that those would have to wait until after a decision is reached on who is appointed permanent chief.
Mayor Chuck Brawner said the city’s human resources department must post the job opening, and then resumes must then be collected and reviewed before Brawner and others, as necessary, begin the interview process.
Tyler said he has applied for the permanent job.
“This is an exciting time for me,” Tyler said. “I’ve lived in Katy since 1978, and I graduated here. I had one other job, with Katy Butane, and I got to know a lot of the rice farmers and old families around here. I know how the citizens like and expect to be treated. I tell my officers, treat citizens like you’d want one of your family members to be treated, and you won’t have any problems.”