May 21 • 02:58 AM

Imlay Police Chief plans a new future

After 36 years on job, Chief Arlan Winslow announces retirement

January 16, 2008
IMLAY CITY — In what was deemed a surprise to city officials, Police Chief Arlan Winslow announced last Thursday that he will retire from the Imlay City Police Department, effective Feb. 28.

On Monday, Winslow, 57, cited timing and opportunity as his reasons for stepping down after 36 years in law enforcement.

For the past 36 years, Arlan Winslow has been a fixture at the Imlay City Police Department. On Thursday, he announced that he is retiring. photo by Tom Wearing.
"I've been doing this for a long time and I'm in the position to do this (retire) now," said Winslow. "I still have my health, but I'm a bit of a worrywart. I want to enjoy what's left of my life.

"This is a 24/7 job with a lot of responsibility," he said, "and it's getting a little harder to recharge my batteries. (Former police chief) Larry Dougherty once told me the time comes for everyone. This is the time for me."

A 1969 graduate of Imlay City High School, Winslow studied law enforcement at St. Clair Community College. At the age of 21, he was hired as a patrol officer by former police Chief Larry Dougherty, a man Winslow describes as his professional mentor.

"When I was in 7th grade, I wanted to play football and Larry was the coach," said Winslow. "He convinced my parents to allow me to play. He was somebody who always went the extra mile, and that continued after I became a police officer."

Winslow has spent his entire law enforcement career in Imlay City, save for a brief stint with the Lapeer County Sheriff's Department in 1973.

"I thought the grass was going to be greener, but it wasn't," Winslow recalled. "There were more politics in that position and I'm not a politician. I came back here as soon as I could."

After returning to Imlay City as a full-time patrol officer, Winslow trained as an EMT and later was an instructor/coordinator for the former Imlay City Ambulance Service.

As an officer, he rose steadily through the ranks, achieving sergeant status before attaining the position of lieutenant. When Larry Dougherty retired as police chief in July 1994, Winslow was the heir apparent for his former mentor's job.

In 1996, Winslow attended the FBI Academy, further expanding his professional knowledge and providing him with tools that could be applied in Imlay City.

Winslow noted that the evolution of technology and safety-related law enforcement campaigns have become an integral part of modern police work.

"Things have changed a lot," said Winslow. "An important part of our job today is educating the public through our various campaigns.

"Technologically, we've made a lot of advances in information sharing and efficiency," he said. "All police, fire and EMS in the county are using the same radio frequencies. We're able to do more with less."

Relative to his own department, Winslow said he is proud that at least one thing has not changed. That's the connection his officers have with the community.

"The public's perception of police is one of our biggest problems," said Winslow. "But we're not like what you see on TV. We connect with the people in the community. We are caring people doing a job.

"As police officers we have to deal with people and their problems," said Winslow, "but we'd rather be friendly with people than adversarial."

Winslow said he has adhered to several professional and philosophical principles during his career in law enforcement.

"I believe integrity is important," he said. "My word has always been my word. I would never want to disgrace the uniform, the badge or this community.

"It may sound corny," said Winslow, "but I also believe that we are all created equal; that people make mistakes; that they can change; and that we can all make a difference."

These are the same beliefs that Winslow says will guide him in his upcoming retirement.

"It's time for me to smell the roses; to enjoy my friends and family and to do more fishing and hunting. And I'll be doing a lot more golfing," he said.

"I'm not going to shrivel up into a ball and hide out. I plan to still be active in the community—but not as a police officer."

The father of two sons, Aaron, 29, and Adam, 25, Winslow and his wife of 35 years, Denise, expect to be seeing more of each other—at least when he's not out on the links.

He credits Denise with having supported him throughout his career, and as a father and now grandfather of six youngsters.

"I met Denise in 1973 when she worked at the prosecutor's office typing up warrants," Winslow recalled. "She was a real down-to-earth woman. I had to work nights for many, many years, but she has always been there for me."

There are many others to thank, said Winslow, and he intends to do that when opportunity allows.

"Right now, I'm doing a lot of that one-on-one," he said. "Later on, I'd like to do it publicly."

Finding a successor

While the police chief is pondering his retirement, city officials must go to work to find a successor.

Imlay City Manager Amy Planck said Winslow's retirement was unexpected, but well deserved. She pointed out that the city will need to move expeditiously to find his replacement.

"We're posting the position and we hope to get something nailed down by the time he leaves," said Planck. "I'm hoping that Arlan will be willing to participate in the process of finding his successor.

"We're going to miss him," said Planck. "He's done a great job for the city for a very long time. We've always enjoyed a positive working relationship."

Planck said the search process will be open to all qualified candidates, including those who are currently Imlay City police officers.

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