Bertram City Council hires Kyle as PD chief

By Nathan Hendrix

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

The City of Bertram is looking to heal the wounds of the past and prepare for the future with the hiring of a new police chief.

The Bertram City Council approved the appointment of Leslie Dewayne Kyle to the position of Chief of Police on Tuesday at the monthly council meeting at city hall. The council voted to begin the hiring process back in November after the previous chief was fired.

Kyle is a lieutenant with the Austin Police Department, where he has worked for the past 20 years. Prior to his assignment in Austin, he worked in the small-town atmospheres of Spearman and Canyon. In total, Kyle has 32 years of law enforcement experience.

Kyle is a lieutenant in East Austin, one of the busiest areas of the city for law enforcement officials. He said he wanted a change-of-pace as he's aged.

“I'm old,” he said with a laugh. “I'm ready for a slower lifestyle than I deal with now.”

The main motivation, however, for his application to Bertram was the desire to get back to small-town Texas. Kyle said he is familiar with the Hill Country because he rides motorcycles as a hobby.
“I love it here; it's beautiful,” he said. “The people here wave with all of their fingers. I'm not used to that where I work.”

Kyle said he is looking forward to meeting with the officers of Bertram and developing a five-year and ten-year plan for the city. He said the city needs to be prepared for the growth that is inevitably coming to Bertram.

“I think Liberty Hill got caught by surprise, and I don't want to see Bertram go through the same growing pains,” he said. “I'd like to get ahead of that.”

Part of the plan to prepare for that is to establish 24-hour law enforcement coverage; currently, the city does not have around-the-clock police patrols.

Bertram Mayor Adam Warden said the council's focus during the two interviews with Kyle was on experience and background checks.

“He's well-versed in training – which we need,” he said. “He has a long history of doing the right thing. His background checks were clear. There was nothing that brought attention to anything negative.”

The emphasis on background checks stems from the city's former police chief, James Jay “JJ” Wilson being fired in November. Wilson was suspended without pay in October for two arrests in the month.

“I've heard nothing but good things about JJ; I think he just made a mistake,” Kyle said. “In this line of work, we're held to a whole different standard.”

Officer Talbert Booth has been working as interim police chief since Wilson's suspension, but he removed himself from consideration for the permanent position, according to Warden.

The city will hold an offical swearing-in ceremony for Kyle in the future, but a date and time has not yet been announced.

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