Archive for Monday, May 25, 1998

VETERAN POLICE OFFICER CHANGES HIS BEAT

May 25, 1998

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Jim Winn has returned home to Oklahoma after serving 20 years as a patrol officer with the Lawrence Police Department.

In 1978, a 32-year-old police officer named Jim Winn began patrolling the streets of Lawrence, helping solve problems with face-to-face chats and even receiving an occasional ``thank you.''

Twenty years later, the streets are more violent, technology has revolutionized law enforcement and Jim Winn is returning home.

Winn, a native of Bartlesville, Okla., relocated there after working 20 years as a patrol officer with the Lawrence Police Department. He worked downtown foot patrol during his last night on duty earlier this month.

``For my retirement party, I was speechless,'' he said.

Fellow officers and other officials presented him with a watch and an engraved patrol car spotlight.

The spotlight was somewhat of a gag gift. It was a reminder of an incident in 1992 in which Winn responded to a large crowd disturbance at the Hardee's restaurant at 23rd and Iowa.

While trying to contain the crowd, Winn was grabbed and thrown into the side of a patrol car. The impact ripped off the car's side spotlight, and gave Winn a collapsed lung and six broken ribs.

Winn spent four days in the hospital following the incident, which he said illustrated some of the dangers of law enforcement today.

``When I first started in the business, things were a lot simpler,'' he said.

``I think, without a doubt, it's more dangerous now than it was 20 years ago.''

Winn said he wasn't sure exactly why society has become more violent, but speculated that the disintegration of the family has played a role.

``I think it all goes back to family values,'' he said. ``A lot of families either don't exist or just don't have any control.''

He said that violence among juveniles also has escalated at an alarming rate.

``You don't even see that much physical fighting anymore. It's a long-distance thing now -- they'll shoot 'em without having to face them.''

Despite the escalation in violence, Winn said he still enjoys working patrol.

``I think the biggest mistake a lot of our young troopers are doing now is they want to do something behind a desk,'' he said.

``Patrol is where it's at. You're your own boss, you take care of things. It beats being stuck in an office someplace.''

Winn will continue his love of law enforcement patrol in Oklahoma. He'll begin a new job as road deputy for the Washington County Sheriff's Department on June 15.

But he won't need many maps.

``I used to run most of these roads when I was a teen-ager here,'' he said.

Winn, 52, smokes a pipe, and laughs when you ask him about why he particularly enjoys working nights.

``I love the nighttime -- that's where the action is.

``The daytime is for report-taking,'' he joked.

Winn said the thing he'll miss the most in Lawrence is his fellow officers.

``The group that I was working with -- they're a great bunch of people,'' he said. ``I don't know that I'll miss the town, but I'll miss the people.''

Before coming to Lawrence, Winn spent seven years as a police officer in Bartlesville, Okla. He also worked as a military police officer for the Air Force for three years, including a year in Vietnam during the war.

Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin said Winn brought experience to the department.

``His demeanor and his composure were certainly a role model, and he also had his own style,'' Olin said.

-- Mike Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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