Hernando County sheriff's Deputy Richard M. Braune is willing to "go the extra mile," Sheriff Tom Mylander says. Braune doesn't just put in an eight-hour shift and leave. He offers his fellow officers advice and assistance, the sheriff says. He sees their problems and talks on their level.
Because of his efforts, Braune has been recognized as the office's Deputy of the Year.
After serving for 21 years with the Suffolk County Police Department in New York, Braune, 51, retired and moved to Spring Hill in July 1986.
For two years, he worked as a Hernando code enforcement officer. "But I missed law enforcement," he said. So he became a deputy.
Braune was hired for many reasons, Mylander said.
"I think 95 percent of the job is working with the public. Richard brought a lot of knowledge of the agency and experience to the job," the sheriff said.
He said Braune's experience is invaluable because "he's been there. You don't gain those skills from books or sitting in a classroom.
"Dick tries to work with some of the other deputies by looking at some of the stresses they go through," Mylander said. "He understands the pitfalls of being in law enforcement."
Braune said he grew up wanting to go into some sort of public service job.
"I always wanted to be like my father, who retired after 21 years as a New York City fireman," he said.
Braune was a patrol officer and a general service detective in Suffolk County. He spent his entire career in one precinct.
Toward the end of his career in New York, Braune attended South Oaks Institute in Amityville. He graduated in 1981 and was certified by New York State as an alcoholism counselor.
From then until he retired, Braune worked as an employee relations officer with police officers who were alcoholics and their families. Braune is a recovering alcoholic, with 13 years of sobriety.
"I loved working with my fellow officers and putting them in rehab," he said.
Recipients of the Deputy of the Year award are nominated and chosen by all Sheriff's Office personnel, and the award sometimes goes to a non-deputy.
"The award originated (about six years ago) as a request by civic and veterans groups," Mylander said. The groups wanted to recognize and honor an individual in law enforcement or in emergency medical services.
When choosing an honoree "we look way beyond one heroic act," the sheriff said. How a person presents herself or himself and what they contribute to the department and the community are important.
Since being named Deputy of the Year, Braune has been honored by American Legion Post 208 and by Veterans of Foreign Wars posts 10209 and 8713.
At the VFW Post 10209 affair, "tears came to my eyes," Braune said. He had no idea he was to be honored.
The Knights of Columbus St. Jude Council 6383 in Spring Hill will honor Braune on July 2.
Braune is married and has four children from his first marriage and three stepchildren from his second. His wife, Anita, worked as a para-legal for the Suffolk County Attorney's Office for many years. They have one son considering going into law enforcement and another son attending the police academy in Manatee County.
Braune enjoys traveling, playing the organ and playing tennis and basketball. "I still can keep the youngsters at arm's length on the tennis court," he said. "I do all right." He also plays on a softball team.
Braune said he would like to stay with the Sheriff's Office another 10 years. "By that time, I'll be triple-dipping and ready to retire. Hopefully, my wife will stay home with me."
Braune acknowledged that working in law enforcement creates a great deal of mental and physical stress, "but I look forward to going to work every day," he said. "My comrades are the other half of my family."