By DAVID SWEARINGEN
EDITOR’S NOTE: Residents of Erath County are very fortunate to have many men and women who make living here safe, many of whom are volunteers. They are Hometown Heroes! These people keep us safe and we owe them our thanks and our respect. THANK YOU!
ERATH COUNTY (January 13, 2017) – Kenneth Bratton is a Senior State Trooper and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) Officer for the Department of Public Safety (DPS) based out of Erath County. Officer Bratton proudly calls Stephenville home.
Bratton was born on December 7, 1966, in Amarillo. He has two brothers and one sister. After being born in Amarillo, his family moved a few times due to his father’s job. He and his family lived in Jefferson City, Missouri and then Kansas City, Missouri before moving to Fort Worth. Bratton graduated from Paschal High School in Fort Worth in 1985. He worked on the TCU Grounds Crew while still in high school.
In 1986, Bratton moved to Tarleton State University in Stephenville where he attended classes for two years before attending Tarrant County Junior College for a year. While attending classes at Tarleton, he worked in the automotive shop at K-Mart as a mechanic. (For those that may not know, K-Mart was located in the building where HEB is now located.) He had thoughts of possibly being an auto mechanic, then he met Tracie Woodrum. Tracie is the daughter of retired DPS Trooper, Marvin Woodrum, and her brother, Randy Woodrum, is currently a DPS Lieutenant in Mineral Wells.
In March 1990, Bratton began attending the DPS Academy and later graduated in August 1990 with friend and long-time co-worker, Dub Gillum. Nearly 27 years later, they are both still working for the DPS in and around Erath County.
As mentioned before, he met a young lady named Tracie Woodrum from Cleburne while attending Tarleton State University. Tracie and Kenneth were both in band while attending Tarleton. And Bratton said he proposed on the steps of the TSU Fine Arts Building after a Tarleton football game in 1987. They were married on December 15, 1989, and raised two sons, Ryan (24) and Garrett (20). Both boys are currently attending classes at Texas Tech. Ryan is in Grad School for Mechanical Engineering and Garrett is studying Pre-Med.
Bratton said his favorite thing about the job is it gives him the opportunity to meet and help so many people. He has the opportunity to get drunk drivers off the road and to slow down speeding drivers, thus making the highways safer for everyone.
In his off time, he enjoys working on automobiles, fishing and hunting. He and Tracie attend the First Baptist Church of Stephenville and when the boys were younger, Bratton served as a Scout Leader, flag football coach and a baseball coach.
He said what most people don’t realize is Texas State Troopers such as himself are required to work Border Security once a month (sometimes twice a month) on the Texas/Mexico border on a rotation bases. While on the border, troopers typically work nine days at a time on 12-hour shifts. They work closely with Border Patrol, Homeland Security, Customs, Game Wardens, and area Police and Sheriffs.
Troopers are on the border looking for and attempting to prevent or stop cartel related crimes, gang activity, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and stolen vehicles by serving warrants and making arrests. In the past, they were also called in to assist after the damage caused by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.
When asked about his most rewarding or memorable moment on the job, Bratton spoke of the time he caught and arrested a bank robber.
In the winter of 1993, Trooper Bratton was working out of Mineral Wells when he heard a call over the radio from the Sheriff’s Office that a bank in Mingus had just been robbed. As he headed towards the bank, Bratton saw a vehicle that matched the description given over the radio. Bratton said he “lit him up” (turned on his red and blue flashing lights) and pulled the man over.
Bratton announced to the driver of the vehicle to get out of the car. When the driver got out, he noticed the man did in fact match the description given out over the radio. He was able to arrest the bank robber without any incident, which was lucky because he had no back up in the widely rural area of Central Texas. Troopers later discovered this was the third time the this same man had robbed the Mingus bank. The case was turned over to the FBI, and the robber was found guilty and sent to a Federal Penitentiary.
“Since moving here for school back in 1986, I have always loved this community,” Trooper Bratton said. “I am proud to serve the people of this community and hope to do so for the rest of my working career.”
Great job, Trooper Bratton! Keep up the good work and above all else, stay safe. Thank you for your service.