So he checks in with merchants daily and has attended one of their meetings. Sunday, he walked to work and stopped along the way to address the concerns of residents he met. One had questions about speeders. The other wanted to know about misuse of pellet guns.
“I think that it’s big (to residents) that I live here and that I’ll listen to what they have to say.”
Bratton took over the job Sept. 23, after resigning as Ottawa County sheriff in August. He had a little more than a year left in his second term. The Ottawa County Democratic Central Committee tapped Bratton’s former staff captain, Steve Levorchick, to fill the unexpired term.
“It’s very interesting. A tremendous change,” Bratton said of overseeing a staff of three now rather than nearly 70. “I think the hardest part is missing the people that I have worked with for 19 years.”
Bratton takes the helm in the aftermath of major turmoil revolving around the village police department. Ex-chief Randy Hill left unexpectedly in November after he was placed on administrative leave for an undisclosed reason. In the months prior to that, officers had turned in complaint letters to a councilman citing a hostile work environment and other problems.
A council committee then conducted two rounds of police chief interviews that fell through, with political shenanigans blamed in part.
“I got together with the guys and said ‘Let’s forget about the past, shake it off. It’s time to move forward,’ ” Bratton said.
First order of business was improving coverage and that means new hires, Bratton said.
Council approved two new part-timers, one of which began training this week.
Until both are up to speed, Ottawa County deputies and patrol officers in the Clay Township Department continue to help the Genoa Police when shifts aren’t covered, Bratton said.
“They both have been very good to us,” he said.
The second goal is to update the department’s computer system, the chief said. “I am very impressed with the system they have in place. There are just some glitches we need to work out.”
From there, the department will work off a list of goals developed as a team.
Replacing outdated vests and one of the police cruisers fall next in line, Bratton said.
One change residents will see in coming weeks is that village police will soon be carrying TASERS on the job. That program, researched and developed by Sgt. Todd Mocniak while he served as interim chief, is underway now. Council approved the purchase of five TASERS. A certified instructor from the St. Vincent-Mercy Medical Security Team will conduct training classes.
“I am very impressed with this instructor,” Bratton said.
Although the chief’s health issues with his heart will preclude him from taking the full training personally, he will sit through the entire process in order to stay informed.
“Because in the end, I am going to be the one responsible for what is going on out there,” Bratton said.