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On patrol with the Kerrville Police Department

The Lead gets a ride-along experience to see the work of the department.

If there was one person who seemed to be able to bend space and time, it was Kerrville Police Department patrol Sgt. Ed Holloway.

"How did he beat us here," said Officer Jessie Baldwin with a zest of incredulity in seeing Holloway had beaten him back to the station.

It was a theme throughout the night, wherever we went on Friday night, and into the early hours of Saturday morning, Holloway was there — leading, coaching, teaching and counseling.

Whether or not he can bend space or time is hard to determine. That may require further scientific study. However, in the Kerrville Police Department, presence and contacts are everything. A ride-along is essential for every class as part of the Citizens Police Academy. It shows what the offers are up to — from the mundane to the exhilarating to the heartbreaking.

On Friday night, The Lead struck out with two patrol officers and seemed to see Holloway everywhere we went. And there's probably not a more enthusiastic police officer than Holloway, who has been with the department for more than 10 years.

Holloway's enthusiasm stems from the hiring of Chief Chris McCall, a former chief in Hobbs, New Mexico. McCall's stature and commitment have changed the department, according to five officers we interviewed.

The department is not without its problems. There remains a staffing shortage due to turnover and a lack of qualified candidates. Then there's the situation with the supposedly temporary building that has been the police department's home since 1995.

Kerrville Police Department officers head out onto the streets for a patrol on Friday night.

On May 7, Kerrville voters will decide if they want to indebt themselves to construct a $45 million building to house the police department, municipal court, fire administration, emergency operations center and the city's information technology department.

The outcome of the bond election didn't seem to bother the officers we spoke to, but they were uniformly polite in saying it would be nice. For the most part, the rank-and-file seem to be more concerned about staffing and a lack of space in the patrol room, where they file reports. The City Council moved to rectify the staffing issues by giving a 5% cost of living increase to city employees and flexing salaries for harder-to-fill positions, including those that may be attractive to officers from other departments.

On this night, the salary issues weren't necessarily as important as why they work for Kerrville PD — they grew up here. Three of the officers we worked with — Brandon Adair, Jessie Baldwin and Tyler Cottonware — all graduated from Tivy High School.

Adair, the first officer we worked with, is one of the newer members of the force — he's been there for about two years. Baldwin has unique qualities after working with the U.S. Border Patrol for nearly a decade before coming home to Kerrville. Cottonware seems to have a gift for finding drunk drivers, including recently making five DWI stops in one night.


A Kerrville firefighter works to extinguish a campfire on Friday night.

I arrived at 8 p.m. Friday, ready for my first ride-along in nearly 20 years. The last time was memorable. On that night, I was writing about the final shift for the San Jacinto (Calif.) Police Department before it was absorbed into the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. The night ended with a pursuit, guns drawn and a suspect's car in the front yard. Suffice it to say, that was plenty of excitement.

Did I want that or expect that? No and no!

Adair unexpectedly drew the assignment of ferrying me around Kerrville. When I approached with two large cameras slung over my shoulder, I sensed a bit of panic. There's an annoying cliche that media make police nervous. Media makes everyone nervous, especially when everything is on the record.

Adair adjusted to the unexpected presence of cameras, and we made our way out onto the streets. The police department divides Kerrville into two sectors — east and west. Sidney Baker Street is the dividing line. Adair's assignment was to patrol the east side.

After going over the basics of some of the functionality in Adair's cramped Ford Explorer, we got our first call for service — a fire in Louise Hays Park. Two weeks ago, the city of Kerrville issued a red-flag burn ban for its parks, and the issue of fire is top-of-mind for everyone.

A person standing at the Water Street overlook spotted the flames along the bank of the Guadalupe River — just east of the dam and about 75 yards downstream. As we made our way to the park, two fire engines arrived, and a trio of firefighters hopped out to scout the park.

We followed the firefighters, and it was clear that something was burning, but where? We discovered four teenage boys within about five minutes of trekking on a dirt path. The boys hunkered down by the river, campfire blazing, set to cook up a catfish.

Officer Brandon Adair takes notes, while Sgt. Ed Holloway talks with four teenagers about the dangers of an open fire during a dry season.

This marked the first appearance — seemingly out of nowhere — by Sgt. Holloway. "Don't you guys pay attention?" Holloway asked with a purposeful irritation.

The four teens said they didn't realize a burn ban was in place, but that wasn't a good enough answer for Holloway. However, this would not be a browbeating.

As Adair later said, and most would probably agree, teenage boys can do dumb things, and an open flame in a dry canopy wasn't one the police — or the fire department — would ignore.

So, Adair called the parents and guardians of all four boys, wrote citations, and explained the situation to the parents who had to pick them up at the park. One of the boys said they just wanted to go fishing — nothing wrong with that.

It took officer Brandon Adair nearly an hour to write four citations to four teenage boys that started a small fire in Louise Hays Park.

And this is where Holloway came in again, not with a hammer but a gentle reminder about being smart. Holloway even took another 20 minutes to help one of the boys find a pair of lost Air Pods.

Interestingly, this was the longest procedural part of the night. More than an hour had slipped away when Adair finished writing four tickets.


After the park adventure, I switched patrol duties to head out with Baldwin — a former Tivy track star who later ran at Angelo State. When injuries ruined his track career, he pursued a new passion — law enforcement.

Out of college, he worked in the Tom Green County jail before getting hired on with the Border Patrol — spending about eight years in the bush near Eagle Pass. Within a few minutes, we had a call of suspicious circumstances at a Manor Street duplex. A neighbor felt something was unusual in the empty duplex next door.

We arrived just behind the quick Holloway, and I followed along at a distance. On the surface, this looked like someone was doing remodeling work, neglecting to lock up, turn out the lights, etc. Holloway, Baldwin and a third officer found the door unlocked and with guns drawn, they checked the house. Nothing.

However, the woman next door was genuinely relieved when the police told her everything was OK. She thanked the officers. I'd say that was a win for the Kerrville Police Department.


If there's one thing that Jessie Baldwin took away from his eight years on the border, it was language — as in Spanish. If there's one skill demanded in Kerrville — it's a Spanish-speaking officer. When there's a non-English speaker, Baldwin will get the call. That doesn't mean there aren't other Spanish-speaking officers, but he was it on the Good Friday night shift.

Officer Jessie Baldwin, leaning on the car, speaks Spanish to a person who was pulled over on Friday night.

Crossing over into the eastern sector, another officer made a traffic stop on Bandera Highway, right in front of Guadalupe Bank. The driver didn't understand a word the officer was saying. Baldwin pulled up and quickly solved the problem. Most officers seem to understand basic phrases, but it shows the need for more Spanish speakers on the force.


During the Citizens Police Academy, Tyler Cottonware taught the class about traffic enforcement. It's his specialty, especially when finding suspected drunk drivers. The interesting thing about the CPA class is that it's a three-hour chunk out of a Tuesday night, but it zips by with breakneck speed. Cottonware is one of those officers who inspires confidence in the system because he's committee and knowledgeable. He bluntly tells you that driving is a privilege, not a right — hard words for those inclined to believe the rightfulness part.

Just past midnight, Cottonware stopped a 54-year-old man on Junction Highway — in the parking lot of a chiropractic office. Drunk driving has been a real problem in 2022 — with multiple arrests on any given night.

Driving a silver GMC pickup truck, the driver said Whataburger was his destination, but Cottonware spotted him weaving en route. Cottonware drives one of the stealthy Ford Explorer units — its lights are hard to spot, and its paint scheme makes it look more like a production car.

Cottonware is an expert in field sobriety tests and certified to run a breath analysis machine housed at the Kerr County Jail. Once again, Holloway was on the scene to aid Cottonware, and it was probably less than five minutes after the stop that the suspect was in handcuffs.

Officer Tyler Cottonware makes notes of what they found in a suspect's truck, along with the assistance of Sgt. Ed Holloway.

Holloway and Baldwin inspect the pickup truck.

The suspect said he didn't know there were mini bottles of bourbon in his truck.

That's when Baldwin and I pulled in behind them to help catalog the pickup truck. The officers quickly found six empty mini alcohol bottles in a duffel bag — the driver said he drank two beers. Cottonware speculated the suspect may have had a blood-alcohol level of .18 — more than twice the legal limit of .08.

Within 15 minutes, Cottonware was at the Kerr County Jail with the man. The longest part of the whole process was the safety questionnaire a corrections deputy must perform before intake of a suspect. After about 20 minutes of questioning, and two patdowns, our suspect, took the breath analysis. The high-end result was .17 and the low-end was .15 – both readings making it a Class A misdemeanor. Both results demonstrated Cottonware's adept assessment of his work — one that he takes seriously because nothing good can come of a drunk driving crash.

Cottonware brings his suspect to Kerr County Jail early Saturday morning.

At 1:45 a.m., my ride was over, but it was just another part of a long night for the officers of the Kerrville Police Department — determined to protect and serve.

To see more photos from the ride-along:


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