Law and order in Brenham was originally kept by a City Marshall, from the early 1900s until the Police Department was established in the late 1920s. City Marshall Burch was one of the few officers in Brenham to die in the line of duty, being shot to death on South Park Street.
The Brenham Police Department was established in 1926, with the City Marshall becoming the Chief of Police. Newt Humphries became the first police chief and served for the next 15 years. For 27 years, between 1930 and 1957, the police department was operated out of a cafe on the corner of St. Charles and Main streets. It was during this time that if a person needed the Police Department, they would call the cafe, which operated 24 hours a day, and the waitress would turn on a red light outside the cafe to summon the officers on patrol.
Brenham has had its share of brushes with infamous criminals. Old police folklore has it that in the 1930s when Arthur Sternberg was a night patrolman, he found the notorious Bonnie and Clyde asleep in their car in the downtown area of Brenham. Sternburg was appointed chief in 1940, and served for approximately 37 years, holding the position longer than any other chief in Brenham's history.
In 1941, Officer Henry Taylor became the first Brenham police officer to be killed in the line of duty. He was struck by a car while directing traffic at an accident scene on Horton and North Park streets. To this date, he is the only officer killed in the line of duty.
The police department grew as the City grew, with six policemen, two-night watchmen, and three patrol cars by 1958. Through the sixties and seventies, the department continued to grow and made the move out of the cafe into an office adjacent to City Hall. In 1981, the department received a new building, where it is still headquartered.
In April of 1977, long-time Chief Sternburg retired and Captain Alfred Becker was appointed the chief. During this time, the department had grown to a force of 14 officers and had formed a Detective Division. In the early 1980s, the department began both its Crime Stoppers and Community Relations programs. Both of these have proven to be successful programs, with the Community Relations program moving into community policing long before it became popular.
In August of 1986, Kenneth Carnes was appointed the chief. During his tenure, the force grew to 26 officers with a fleet of 19 vehicles. Carnes expanded the detective division and added a narcotics section. Many new programs, including the Youth Law Enforcement Council, Officer on Train, K-9 section, Police training, SWAT team, mounted patrol and a Color Guard was established. A fitness program for the officers was also started during this time, which gained national attention after being featured on the television series "Current Affairs."
One of the most successful programs launched under Carnes was the BAD (Brenham Against Drugs) Operations which began in 1986. The department has arrested and convicted over 400 drug dealers within Brenham and Washington County since its inception. In 1994, with the help of federal funds, the two-county Independence Narcotics Task Force was formed, with its members coming from the Brenham and Caldwell Police Departments and the Washington and Burleson Counties' sheriff's offices. The task force has taken drug enforcement to a new level here and continues to maintain a high arrest/conviction rate.
In 1994, Chief Carnes took a medical retirement and Lt. Jay Petrash was named interim police chief. After a 14-month search, Gary Buchanan was hired as the police chief. Buchanan was formerly the chief of police in Ft. Stockton, TX, and had served on the Austin Police Department for 17 years before leaving for Ft. Stockton. Chief Buchanan brought in Lt. Kenneth Maxwell to command the Narcotics Task Force. Maxwell is a retired member of the Texas Department of Public Safety and served with them for 27 years in the Highway Patrol and Narcotics divisions. In December 2003, the City Council approved the formation of the Brenham Emergency Communications Department under the direction of Maxwell. At that time, Chief Buchanan restructured the department, naming Petrash as Assistant Chief and creating two lieutenant positions.
Chief Buchanan also brought with him a vision of where the Brenham Police Department should be and has worked to move the department towards that vision. He developed and implemented training on leadership skills, ethics, and process thinking. Programs established under former chiefs were re-evaluated and updated to include both Chief Buchanan's vision and community input. Under Buchanan's direction, the department centralized communications and dispatched public safety communications for all emergency service agencies within Brenham and Washington County. The department computerized its record-keeping and Computer-Aided Dispatching (CAD) in 1990, but Chief Buchanan took it one step further by installing a joint computer system between the police department and Washington County Sheriff's Office. Buchanan obtained a federal grant for a school resource officer who has placed in the Brenham Independent School District. That division has now grown to include a sergeant and two officers. The Citizens Police Academy was reformatted and a Citizens on Patrol (COP) program implemented. Motorcycle and Bike patrol divisions were initiated and the department grew to a force of 29 commissioned officers, 10 communications personnel, and three clerical positions.
Buchanan retired from the department in 2005. Assistant Chief Jay Petrash again stepped up as interim chief, serving for a period of nine months while the City sought a new chief. In January 2006, Glen Fowler was hired as the chief. During his tenure plans for a new police station were designed, with groundbreaking ceremonies held in November of 2008. The department also implemented mobile computers for all patrol vehicles and patrol rifles for all officers of the department. In December, Fowler announced he was accepting a position with the Allen Police Department and Petrash again took over as interim chief from December 2008-June 2009. During this period, Interim Chief Petrash, officers, and staff maintained the construction schedule of the new police building, Upgraded all mobile data terminals in patrol units, worked with CPA regarding the implantation of the new K9 unit, applied and received federal grants in conjunction with emergency management for new 700mhz multi-county radio system, and revitalized S.T.E.P. enforcement program.
In June 2009 Rex Phelps was hired as chief. Chief Rex Phelps was formally from the Forest Hills Police Department. Since his tenure as Chief of Police, the department has finalized construction of the new police building, continued implementation of the K9 program, gained funding for three additional police officers, and through the reorganization of city departments, Animal Control, Animal Shelter, and health and Safety Code Enforcement were placed under his command and authority.
Chief Phelps was promoted to the position of Assistant City Manager over General Fund operations in May 2015. During his tenure, the department was recognized as a Texas Best Practices Department. Another organizational change brought the position of public information officer to the department and moved health and safety code enforcement back under Public Works.
September 2015: Chief Goodman began his law enforcement career with the Pasadena Police Department in May 1989. He was a member of the command staff for 9 years and gained valuable experience by leading and managing personnel in patrol, investigations, support, and community services.
Chief Goodman joined the Brenham Police Department in September 2015 to continue his career in public service. He is honored to have the opportunity to lead the Brenham Police Department and to continue the department's legacy of service to the citizens of Brenham.
In 2018 Chief Allwin Barrow joined the City of Brenham. Chief Barrow is a graduate of Lamar University, (Bachelors Degree) Sam Houston State University (Master's Degree), University of Louisville, Southern Police Institute, Command, and Management College, Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute, and has achieved over 7000 hours of Command, Leadership, Management, and specialty skills training. Among others, he has received the "Career Achievement Award," from Robert S. Mueller, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Texas Municipal League award for "Public Safety Excellence." Additionally, he has been both a consultant and instructor for the Department of Justice, The Department of Defense, and numerous federal agencies in matters of crime control, community revitalization, and combating the root causes of crime across the nation. He has been a Criminal Justice Professor at both UT San Antonio and Dallas Baptist University and has served on a variety of boards and committees in conjunction with criminal justice, security, counter-terrorism, and community policing.
Barrow began his law enforcement career with the Beaumont Texas Police Department, where he worked his way through the ranks to Division Commander. He served as Chief of Police for both Kerrville and Waxahachie Police Department's where he and his department were nationally recognized for crime control and community initiatives. Additionally, he served as an Interim Chief of Police in nine (9) other cities in Texas. As a consultant, Chief Barrow serves as a Law Enforcement Advisor and subject matter expert for law enforcement agencies across the United States.
As Brenham's new Chief, he brings a wide breadth of experience with over 47 years, 27 of which are as a Chief. Barrow is married with five children and seven grandchildren.