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Major to leave for job as chief

By LEANORA MINAI

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 24, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- When an advertisement crossed his desk for an opening in the Paducah, Ky., Police Department, St. Petersburg police Chief Goliath Davis III had someone in mind.

He sent the flier to one of his top supervisors, Maj. Randy Bratton of the city's youth resources division.

Bratton, 37, applied for the job of police chief in his native, western Kentucky city. On Tuesday, he narrowly secured the job after a 3-2 vote by the City Commission.

After 17 years with the city of St. Petersburg, Bratton said he will depart with "mixed feelings" but could not refuse the opportunity for professional growth and family connections.

"That's my hometown," Bratton said Friday.

Paducah, population 28,000, made national news in 1997 when a 14-year-old killed three students and wounded five at a high school.

Bratton, who will move his wife, father and 8-month-old son, James, to Paducah, will be the second chief the commission has hired this year to replace the police chief who retired late last year.

The commission voted to hire the Bellevue, Neb., police chief in January, but he later backed out and decided to remain in his job.

Bratton, who came out ahead of a Paducah police captain and two other candidates, said he is ready for the challenge a small city brings, which, he said, includes an influx of workers and visitors that doubles the population at peak times.

"I have the skills appropriate for Paducah to make them a top-of-the-line police department," he said.

He will be in charge of 100 employees.

In St. Petersburg, Bratton worked as a patrol officer, arson detective and head of the traffic division before being promoted to major in youth resources.

Said his current boss, Chief Davis: "I'm always happy to see individuals in this department excel and progress and do well in life."

Bratton will earn about $65,000, as he does in St. Petersburg. He begins in April.

- Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press.

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