ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) - As he prepares to pass along his chief’s cap early next year, Round Rock’s soft spoken top cop says he’s most proud of the local law enforcement relationships that have been created in a post 9-11 world.
“Police departments can’t afford to be isolationist,” Chief Tim Ryle told KXAN. “The degree of collaboration we have with other agencies including our federal partners (FBI, DEA, ICE) is amazing,” he said noting criminals do not distinguish between city or county borders. Monthly meetings to compare notes with other local law enforcement leaders are commonplace.
Chief Ryle is handing off a 221-member department, 154 of whom are sworn officers.
“The morale is good, the employees are committed and feeling good,” he said referring to feedback he received from a recent triennial visit from an international accreditation team. The assessment group was in Round Rock to judge if the department should retain its status as a place of professional excellence.
It first achieved that status in 2004.
On the question of needing more officers, the chief said the department is maintaining a standard of service and high levels of ongoing training. But he said could always use more officers as Round Rock's population surges above the 100-thousand mark. It's still often touted as the second safest city of its size in Texas and among the top 20 safest nationwide.
Local crime index numbers put Round Rock as safer than two thirds of US cities.
But its officer to-resident ratio remains below the standard two officers per thousand population often touted as a gold standard by professional police groups as well as Austin’s police chief. Ryle said Round Rock would need to hire 60 more officers plus accompanying support staff to reach that ratio.
“You have to balance the visions and expectations your staff have with the resources available,” he said.
Advice for his successor? Ryle says that person mostly will need to encourage officers to open up to newcomers at every opportunity.
“They’re new to this area altogether and so their perceptions of the Round Rock police department are going to be based on some other input, somewhere else, so they haven’t yet got an opportunity to get to know us,” he said.
On the horizon, a $28-$38.3 million police/fire training center. Voters will decide as part of a bond issue this coming November. City council is considering a $26,525,121 proposed operating budget for the department, projected to be 29.7% of the general fund up slightly from the year before.
Chief Ryle comes from a line of police officers (see photos above). His father was a cop in 1950s McAllen and Abilene, Texas. His grandfather served on the border patrol 20 years before that.
Now this veteran Texas peace officer is anticipating his turn to unpin the badge with a mixture of excitement and sadness.
“Mostly I will just miss the opportunity just to help people in different ways, Chief Ryle, 54 said. “People (who are) internal to the organization, people in the community. I think that’s part of the reason we get into this business.
“Getting out of the police business doesn’t mean you don’t have those opportunities anymore you just have to find them a different way. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities out there,” he said.
The City of Round Rock will undertake a national search for the chief’s successor.
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