03/28/11 — Sheriff's Office veterans retire

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Sheriff's Office veterans retire

By Gary Popp
Published in News on March 28, 2011 1:46 PM

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From left, William King, Al Greene and Ray Smith are retiring from the Sheriff's Office after a combined 74 years.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office recently lost nearly a century of service as five career lawman recently retired. The group represented a combined 99 years of experience with the Sheriff's Office alone and more than 180 years total in law enforcement.

In December, John and Donna Winstead, who are married, retired. A month later, Al Greene, Ray Smith, and William "Buddy" King also retired.

Both Smith and King have since returned to the Sheriff's Office on a part-time basis.

While all have had unique experiences, they share a passion for helping others and making their community safe.

Chief Deputy Ray Smith has already served 28 years with the Sheriff's Office. But he decided last month to come back for more.

"It's been my life for 28 years. I reckon I wasn't ready to give it up," Smith said.

His new duties are more mundane that his previous job and he said he was enjoying it.

"I don't want to tell anybody what to do, and I don't want anybody asking me what to do," Smith joked.

Smith said what he most enjoyed while working at the sheriff's office was interacting with the community.

"I enjoyed working with the public. It is a real rewarding feeling," he said. "I appreciate Sheriff (James) Sasser for giving me a chance, and Sheriff Winders has been just wonderful. I think he has done a great job."

Smith said he doesn't miss the unexpected calls.

"The phone doesn't ring at three o'clock in the morning anymore, telling me someone has been shot or there is a problem at the jail," Smith said.

Captain William "Buddy" King served for 27 years with the Sheriff's Office. He has returned as a part-time court bailiff after sitting out for only a month.

"A lot of people retire and do the couch potato thing -- that makes life short. If you are active, you keep you body ready to go," King said.

King said working in a courtroom is a good fit for him.

"The courtroom is an interesting place to be, many interesting things are said," he said. "The pressure is not as much here."

King said some of the things he witnessed in the line of duty are things nobody wants to see.

"Seeing a child that has been hurt, abused or killed -- that hurts my feelings about as much as anything," he said. "Seeing kids hurt, that is my soft spot."

King said he considers himself lucky.

"God has been good. I have never been really hurt, and I have never really had to hurt anybody. I am really thankful," he said.

King said he has enjoyed working under Winders.

"He is a good man to work for. He has always been fair," he said.

Special Deputy Al Greene, who spent 16 years with the Sheriff's Office, spent 20 years in the Marines before becoming a lawman. He said working in law enforcement was a natural carryover from his time in service.

"I tried to treat people how I want to be treated. I think that most people appreciate when you talk to them decent and, at times, give them a break," Greene said. "Most of the time if you treated people right, they will reciprocate.

"A police officer has got to be a mother, father, psychiatrist and make instantaneous decisions that may or may not be life threatening."

But he said he has noticed less respect for law enforcement officers over his time in uniform.

"Now, you take your life in your hands when you make a regular traffic stop," Greene said.

Major John Winstead had 15 years with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.

Following his 25-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, Winstead decided he wanted to be part of the Sheriff's Office after witnessing firsthand the limitations of the county's law enforcement in the early 1990s.

Winstead said his neighbor's home was broken into, and when the sheriff's office was called, the report was taken over the phone.

"They had to, they didn't have anyone to send out there," Winstead said.

Winstead said the biggest challenges he faced while at the sheriff's office was limited resources.

"We had nothing. We had no computers, and we had people sharing portable radios. So we went to work."

Winstead said Winders, others and himself went to work improving the sheriff's office by acquiring more equipment and manpower over the years.

Winstead also wanted worked to build special organizations within agency, such as the Honor Guard.

He said there are too many highlights during his time at the sheriff's office to mention.

"It is a very rewarding job. I don't know what kind of difference I made, but I did the best job I could," Winstead said. "I put those underneath me in the best position I could with as little pressure as possible."

The transition into retirement has been a smooth one for Winstead.

"I wondered if I would be bored, but I am not," he said. "I am happy to spend my retirement enjoying time with my wife."

Office Assistant Donna Winstead was with the Sheriff's Office for 13 years. Mrs. Winstead took phone calls, responded to questions from people who walked in and often served as the go-to person for deputies in the field looking for information on ac case.

Mrs. Winstead said there were times when she would be on a call with a deputy during tense moments.

"Hearing the deputies get excited about finding someone they had been looking for for months would really get your adrenaline going," Mrs. Winstead said.

Mrs. Winstead said she had a natural interest in law enforcement, but the opportunity came about a little unexpectedly.

"I went and talked to the sheriff and told him if a spot opened up that I was interested in working at the Sheriff's Office. A month later he called me a told me position was available," she said. "I am so glad I took that position, because I have loved working there."

While there was some reservations about leaving, Mrs. Winstead eventually decided it was the right time to retire.

"I loved working for the sheriff and the deputies. It was hard leaving. John and I wanted to retire together. We are getting older and we wanted to spend time together and travel."

Mrs. Winstead said the most difficult part of leaving the job was leaving her co-workers.

"I miss my deputies something terrible. They were like family. You get to know their families and their kids. And you pray to God when they get into a chase nothing is going to happen to them," Mrs. Winstead said.

Winders said he was sorry to see the veteran officers retire but understood their reasons.

"I appreciate the job that all of them did for me and the service they provided for this county." he said. "They all helped me make an impact, and we worked together."

Winders said he has changed some officer's duties to adjust to the losses.

*Fain Greenfield was promoted to major over the Wayne County jail.

*Daryll Overton was promoted to major in support services and special operations.

*Tom Effler was promoted to major of investigations.

*Dwayne Edwards was promoted to major of patrol.

*Ray Brogden was promoted to captain over civil, warrants and courts.

*Richard Lewis will now serve as captain in narcotics/investigations, after retiring from his service as chief investigator at the district attorney's office.

*Richard Blizzard has been promoted to lieutenant of support services (training and equipment management).

*Mike Reid and Craig Edwins have both been promoted to lieutenants in patrol.