The Brenham Police Department is undergoing a major change in its structure.

Brenham Police Chief Ron Parker addresses Brenham City Council at their July 7 meeting. Parker told the council Thursday that the police department has made significant changes to its organizational structure.

Brenham Police Chief Ron Parker told City Council today (Thursday) that due to loss of staff and recruitment difficulties the police service has adjusted its organization chart to be “more streamlined and reduced”.

Parker said the department has lost nearly 18% of its total workforce, including civilian and sworn personnel, and nearly 20% of its licensed police officers. He called the reasons for this “multifaceted”.

Parker said attempts to hire new staff have not been very successful so far, largely due to other agencies with which Brenham competes.

Parker said these staffing challenges go beyond the police department, extending across the city and to other law enforcement agencies.

Part of the department’s organizational change includes the reduction of two police captains to one, namely Captain Lloyd Powell, with the position of second captain being transferred to that of a patrol officer. The other captain was longtime officer and former acting police chief Dant Lange, who is no longer with the department. KWHI asked the city about Lange’s departure, but the city declined to comment. KWHI contacted Parker and filed a public information request to find out if Lange’s exit was part of the restructuring plan or was due to other factors.

Additionally, Parker said many of the department’s former stand-alone units or sections, such as the Crime Reduction Unit, have been merged into the Criminal Investigations Unit. One reason for this, he said, is that the department has “lost half of our detectives.” One of them is another agent who had worked for the department for several years, Jared Campbell. Other staff were moved to patrols, where Parker said most of the department’s needs were.

Parker called the new organizational composition “more hybrid and fluid”, able to adapt and change according to day-to-day needs, and more focused on “the core priorities of our citizens”. He said a side effect is that the department’s community services and outreach programs will take a hit, particularly because of the community resource officer position currently vacant. He also expects that for the foreseeable future, crime rates will increase and response times to certain categories will increase as officers “become increasingly tied to investigations, reports and just plain overburdened with work”.

Despite the staff shortage, Parker believes this is an opportunity for the department to improve its services and become leaner and more efficient.

Also at today’s meeting, Council:

  • Held an executive session regarding the lease between the City and County of Washington for the communications facility at 301 North Baylor Street. Subsequently, the council voted unanimously to approve a second extension of the lease agreement.
  • Attended a presentation on the City’s Public Infrastructure Design Manual.
  • Approved in first reading an order modifying the budget adopted for the financial year 2021-22.
  • Received the third quarter financial report for fiscal year 2021-22.

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Aubrey L. Morgan