|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Friday, 15 July 2011 12:00|
Clarkdale Interim Director of Public Safety John Wintersteen, who took over the department in June, made his first executive decision Thursday, July 7: From now on, all patrol officers, including animal control, are required to wear bulletproof vests when on duty.
Most Clarkdale patrol officers already wear the vests, Wintersteen said, but making it mandatory across the board reflects his belief officer safety comes first.
The former U.S. Marine Corps combat engineer and Paradise Valley Police Department police chief said maintaining a high level of police protection and positive community relations established under former Police Chief Pat Haynie are also top priorities.
“The good reputation this department enjoys has been built up over a long, long time,” Wintersteen said. “I want to reinforce what’s already here.”
Signed to a nine-month contract in June, Wintersteen said the temporary job is a “marvelous opportunity” to do the work he loves most.
“When I retired two years ago, I thought I would never get another chance to do what I really love to do,” he said.
Since 2009, Wintersteen worked as director of Public Safety Programs at Williams Institute for Ethics and Management before taking the temporary post in Clarkdale. He was Paradise Valley Police Department Police Chief from 1995 to 2008.
He said he took the position in Clarkdale knowing he would not be eligible for the permanent job and vowed to assist Town Manager Gayle Mabery in any way he can. He said he would participate in the selection process for a new chief if asked.
He understands the severe budgetary pressure under which the town currently operates and will rely on Mabery to guide and advise him as he undertakes his duties, Wintersteen said.
He predicts no major changes during his administration, although the resignation of one patrol officer and the potential resignation of another means he will be interviewing for new staff soon.
Headhunting will be made a little easier by the high level of competition for positions in law enforcement, meaning Clarkdale should be able to attract quality officers, even though it can’t pay top dollar, Wintersteen said.
“Not many agencies are hiring out there,” he said. “Jobs are scarce, and I am absolutely certain we’re going to get quality applicants.”
His first goal as interim chief is to observe how Clarkdale officers do their jobs and decide if there is a different way to do them that might serve the public even better.
A Marine who served from 1965 to 1994, Wintersteen traveled the world as a combat engineer, company commander, aircraft group engineer officer, expeditionary base commander and military police officer.
He continues to serve as a member of the executive board for Boy Scouts of America Grand Canyon Council. He also served as a committee chairman for International Association of Chiefs of Police from 1998 to 2004.
From 2007 to 2009, he was a regular presenter at the association’s national conferences and a member of its steering group for a national project on returning veterans.
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