The new badge in town
The city of Wells has welcomed a new Chief of Police back in May, and though his position is new to him, Tim Brennigan is not new to the Wells Police Department.
Now chief, then officer Tim Brennigan temporarily took over for Jim Ratelle after Ratelle had taken a new position in Rochester, which came as a surprise to the Wells community. Now, Brennigan has taken the appointed position permanently.
“It started as an interim job, but eventually, it was easier for everyone for me to just stay on as chief,” says Brennigan.
Brennigan has worked on the Wells police force for 11 years. He, his wife Tracy, 17-year-old son Treavor, 16-year-old son Caleb, and six-year-old daughter Leighton all live in Albert Lea. Brennigan makes the daily commute to Wells everyday, and has since he began his work in the city.
Brennigan grew up in Albert Lea and graduated from high school there. He then went into the Air Force, fresh out of high school, and served for the United States Military for five years. He then went to Freeborn County as a police cadet and received an associates degree. He finally landed in Wells back in 2005, and achieved his bachelor’s degree in 2009.
What gets a person interested in law enforcement? For Brennigan, it was a simple ride along with one of his friends from high school.
“My buddy had joined the police force, and I went with him for a ride along after I was back home from the Air Force, and it was just that one night of action that got me thinking that I could see myself doing this as a career,” says Brennigan.
Though he does not live in Wells, Brennigan calls Wells his hometown.
“This is where I spend all of my time, and all of my energy, and besides my family, this is where I care the most about the people,” says Brennigan.
Brennigan says the job certainly has its pros and cons, but being a working chief is one of the pros.
“I get to still be an active officer, which means I still am able to patrol and help the citizens of Wells like any other officer on the force,” he says.
Brennigan has only four full-time officers on his staff and nine part-time officers. Though the staff is small, Brennigan is very confident that his team has and continues to maintain good patrol on the city.
“Whether it’s a simple civil matter, or larger issues like drugs and domestic violence, we have a team of highly trained officers with large amounts of integrity and respect to serve our community well,” he says.
Wells’ size is both the greatest quality and the most difficult quality to work with for Brennigan. On one hand, Brennigan fully appreciates every single person in his community.
“I could not ask for better citizens,” he says. “These people treat us so well, and we get to know each of them by name and establish real relationships with them, which is something you don’t get to do in larger cities.”
And on the other hand, living in a smaller, rural town with a 24-hour operation means fewer resources available to officers.
“It’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Brennigan says. “We are limited only in some ways. To me, it’s just more about problem solving and doing more with less. We can do anything a large city does, we just have to come up with different ways to achieve an end result.”
According to Chief Brennigan, Wells’ most abundant issues are quality of life concerns. Whether it is loose dogs, bickering neighbors, or neighborhood scams, Brennigan says the calls are plentiful. That is not to say, however, that crime is not in the city of Wells.
“We have a lot of drug activity and domestic violence, unfortunately,” says Brennigan.
Though these matters are in every city, Brennigan says he is thankful to have such a supportive staff and community with strong protocols in every situation. He speaks highly of Faribault County’s domestic violence victims advocate, Deb Wiederhoft, and the Faribault County Sheriff’s Department.
“They are crucial parts of our team. We all work together to make our citizens safer. Once we integrate those key partners in our protocol, it makes the justice system work much more efficiently” he says.
If funding was not an issue, and any amount of money was available to him and his staff, Brennigan says his focus would be on community outreach, and says that even though money may not be available, he still hopes to exercise more community outreach for the city of Wells.
Brennigan states that he would like to see the community get to know him and his officers better and seeing what truly goes on behind even just one day in the life of a public officer. He is hoping the City Council will take him up on his offer to have an elected official academy so council members will be able to see what is done for the Wells community by the Wells Police Department.
“Ultimately, I would love to be able to start a citizen’s academy. That way we not only have our officers with eyes on the community, but citizens as well. Not that we don’t have that already,” says Brennigan.
Brennigan’s other goal as chief is to maintain the quality and amount of services that the city of Wells has already received. He hopes to continue the same services Wells has gotten in the past to ensure not only safety, but comfort in the community. Brennigan’s three words he lives and works by are integrity, respect, and service and his plan is to keep those words at the top of his list at all times as the new Wells Police Chief.