Dwaine Winkels Retires After 33 Years

March 21, 2018 08:30 PM

(ABC 6 News)--And after more than 3 decades, it’s time for Albert Lea Public Safety Director Dwaine Winkels to step down.

"The work itself is still basic human interaction," said Winkels.


In 1985, Winkels became a rookie patrolman for the Albert Lea police department.

"I was actually hired in Austin and Albert Lea on the same day” he recalled.

He took the Albert Lea job because it offered the best chance for advancement.

"I was promoted to lieutenant in 1991, and I made assistant chief in 95, chief of police in 2005."

He says he'd like to legacy by the department moving toward proactive and community policing.

"It gives them a lot more power to do their jobs, a lot more leeway to do their work,” Dwaine Winkels told us.

It was that change that led him to be named Albert Lea's Director of Public Safety overseeing police and fire in 2011.

“And that was the unique part with Dwaine, coming from law enforcement and having to learn how to be a firefighter," Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Laskowske said.

“He's provided his supervisors, he's provided his patrol officers with the tools to do their job and he's allowed them to do their job," Deputy Police Department Director J.D. Carlson added.

But at its heart, the job is still about human interaction.

"Not too long ago a gentleman comes up and he goes I just want to thank you,” Dwaine Winkels told us. “He said you arrested me 25 years ago for DWI, and I remember it very well, it was a very difficult arrest. And he said I haven't had a drop since."

The Albert Lea City Council will discuss whether to keep the “Public Safety Director” model or return to a system with different leaders for the police and fire departments. Dwaine Winkels formally retires March 30.


Dan Conradt

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