New sheriff changes up Ellis Co. Sheriff's Office

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News

Ellis County’s new sheriff, Scott Braun, took the oath of office early in January, and reported Monday on changes to the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve had some people that have retired, and therefore it opened up some things and made some savings for us,” said Braun, who described the changes Monday evening to the Ellis County Commission during its regular meeting at the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main.

“We’re able to move some people around,” said Braun, who was previously Ellis County undersheriff and has more than 20 years with the office, “so that’s really the main reason.”

Braun said there are quite a few new people in the department, which has about 39 employees. That has allowed for some of the changes, which he made in an effort to help control overtime costs. Braun said there is a need to increase patrol in the county, with a vacancy right now, but he wants to wait until June or July as the annual budget is finalized to fill that.

Among the changes:

Chuck White, previously a detective, is now undersheriff; and instead of three detectives, there are now two, Brian Shannon and Brad Ricke. Also, Sgt. Josh Gibson was named administrative sergeant.

“He has done an outstanding job,” Braun said. “That has afforded us the ability to handle walk-ins without pulling in our deputies from the road. So he’s worked some accidents and some walk-in reports.”

With a vacancy, the number of lieutenants was reduced from two to one, and some of that workload shifted to the sergeants. Now Lt. Tim Deines supervises not only the jail, but also patrol.

“So the left hand knows what the right hand is doing,” Braun said, noting that move was made after a pilot test prior to the retirement earlier this year of long-time Sheriff Ed Harbin.

Now there are three sergeants on the patrol side, and three on the jail side.

Deputies John Walz and Tabatha Deines continue handling security at the Ellis County Courthouse.

Because of the county’s pay and benefit package, Braun said, hiring and retention aren’t an issue.

“Thus far, we have not really had to advertise for anyone,” Braun said. “People are coming in and filling out applications.”

Braun said he’s trying to plan for the future, as the county grows.

"The ultimate goal on the road is to have a sergeant out with a minimum of two guys, out at all times,” he said. “I can personally speak that the days of working domestics by yourself should never occur. That’s a dangerous situation, and we have the means with the switching and sliding of manpower to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The commissioners earlier in the meeting thanked the retiring Harbin for his 40 years of service as sheriff.

“Keep up the good work,” said Commissioner Dean Haselhorst to Braun. “We look forward to change, the new guy’s in town, the new sheriff in town.”