Family tie led OPD’s new deputy chief to law enforcement | News


When JD Winkler graduated from Daviess County High School in 1996, he wanted what many new grads want: to get out of his hometown and see the world.

Winkler was also self-aware enough to know he needed direction in his life, so he joined the U.S. Army and became a military policeman and a member of the 101st Airborne Division.

“I knew I wasn’t college material” by the time he graduated from high school, Winkler said in an interview Wednesday. “The army gave me a certain structure. I’m proud of my time (in the military) and glad I went.

The army did something else for Winkler. Seeing other parts of the country and the world gave him an appreciation for his hometown, he said. Upon returning to town, he approached the Owensboro Police Department.

“I remember checking the Messenger-Inquirer when I got the job offer, to see if the city commission had hired me,” Winkler said. “It was a proud moment.”

Since then, Winkler has earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice and is a graduate of the FBI’s Law Enforcement Leadership Academy.

On Monday, Winkler officially became the deputy head of the department.

As Deputy Chief, Winkler is second in command to Chief Art Ealum. While at the OPD, Winkler served as a patrol officer, narcotics detective, emergency public information officer, street crimes unit supervisor, and professional standards unit officer. As a major, Winkler led the field services division, which includes patrols and investigations.

In the army, soldiers have a say in the professions they wish to pursue. Winkler said he was inspired to join the military police by his mother, Alana Esther, who was the first female deputy in the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department.

Winkler said Esther, who spent nearly 30 years as a dispatcher after her stint in the sheriff’s office, was an example to follow.

“I remember thinking, ‘Mom is a policewoman,'” Winkler said.

Winkler served five years in the military. In addition to his mother’s example, Winkler said a major event also drew him to law enforcement.

“After the 9/11 hit, I felt like I was saying, ‘I want to serve my hometown,'” he said. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

Seeing the challenges his mother faced as a female officer gave Winkler an appreciation for the need for more female officers in departments, he said.

“I’m proud of this department – we have more female desks than we’ve ever had, and it’s not by accident,” Winkler said.

One of OPD’s goals is to make the department more diverse, which is important to the community, he said.

“We recruit 15 to 20 years later,” Winkler said. Young girls “see a female officer, and they know they can do it too.” Or the kids “see an officer who looks like them, and they know they can do it too.

“It is important that our department resembles our community. We are not an occupying force. We are members of the community.

OPD places officers in a variety of jobs over the course of their careers, such that Winkler has worked as a patrol officer, narcotics detective, narcotics unit administrator, and as an officer who conducts drug investigations. allegations of officer misconduct.

As the principal field service, Winkler often served as the public face of the department, appearing at public events and making presentations to city commissioners.

“A lot of (positions) were outside of my comfort zone, but that’s where you learn,” he said. “That’s where you grow the most.”

Winkler said challenges the department faces going forward include recruiting and retaining officers. Law enforcement agencies face challenges from the public sector, which finds officers very attractive because of their leadership and decision-making abilities. Agencies must also compete for a dwindling candidate pool.

“We constantly have to adapt and try to identify ways to recruit and retain people,” he said. “At the same time (…) we are suffering, but we are not desperate. We have to hire the right people.”

Winkler said he enjoys working with the public and being involved in the community.

“If we can positively impact one or two people, we basically live forever,” he said.

Winkler could retire this year with a full state pension, but said he was happy to take up his new position at OPD.

“There are agencies that I know I couldn’t have spent my entire career at,” Winkler said. “OPD’s structure and professionalism make you proud. Doing the right thing has always been easy here in my career.


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