WHEATLAND – Platte County got together June 6 at Platte Valley Bank’s conference room to bid farewell to the mild-mannered police officer, Grady Winders who had served Platte County and maintained an exemplary service record.
What the community showed last Monday night was the love they had for the one who had protected and served the people of Platte County so well. A final goodbye reception was put forth for Winders and for two hours, people continued to pack into the conference room. People he had worked with, people who he helped, friends, neighbors all were there to hug his neck and eat cake with him for a final time.
The Platte County Sheriff’s Department hosted the reception with gifts for Winders that included an impressive wooden American flag wall hanging. On the back, people could sign their names and leave him their well-wishes. Not hardly an inch of space was left for all the signatures that were gathered for this humble and appreciate man.
“The Platte County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank everyone for joining us in the celebration of former undersheriff Grady Winders’ retirement,” said Kayla Robinett, spokesperson for the Platte County Sheriff’s Office. “Sheriff Clyde Harris had the honor of presenting a 20 years of service pin to Grady for his 22 years of Service to our community.”
During the celebration Winders was honored with a short video, showcasing his time with the Sheriff’s office, teaching D.A.R.E, playing music for Special Olympics and community events and much more. The Platte County Sheriff’s Department also took a moment to honor his wife Leisa Winders for supporting him and the Sheriff’s office during his years of service.
“Law enforcement is a thankless career but with the support of family, friends and community it makes it all worth it,” Robinett said. “We would like to wish Grady good luck in his future endeavors. He will be missed by us all. Thank you again Grady for everything.”
Winders, undersheriff for the Platte County Sheriff’s Office for 14 years, tendered his resignation two weeks ago.
The friendly face and mild-mannered law enforcement official has seen many things through almost two decades of work in the local law enforcement agency. He has been known as a fair but firm officer and always serving the county with integrity and character.
“Sheriff (Steve) Kegley called me at the time and said he’d like to talk to me,” Winders said. “He made me an offer and I’ve been here ever since. I took one year off when they fired up the youth challenge program and I went over there because I loved working with kids.”
In 2002 Sheriff Kegley got a police grant and wanted to create a new position of “school resource officer” and placed Winders in that position to help initiate and establish the program. Essentially Winders would go from school to school in Platte County. He was a “D.A.R.E.” officer.
“During the summers I would work the roads like everyone else, but during the school year I was at the schools,” Winders said. “I would teach security to the teachers, deal with law enforcement issues if I had to and even taught some constitutional law in some of the social studies classes.”
Until his resignation last week, he still maintained his title of “school resource officer.”
“I had a D.A.R.E. graduation at three of the high schools this year,” Winders said. “I also have been teaching a k-4 program in Glendo.”
Winders was asked by Sheriff Kegley if there would be any interest in him becoming the undersheriff and he was willing to take the position, but wouldn’t give up the kids, so there was special contract so that he could be undersheriff and teach the kids.
When the changing of the guard came between Sheriff Kegley and Sheriff Clyde Harris, Winders seemed to be the heir apparent to be the Platte County Sheriff, but due to having to take care of his dad who was very ill, Winders opted not to run for the position.
“It shocked me that Clyde picked me as his undersheriff, because he has a right to pick whover he wants,” Winders said. “He just decided that he wanted me and offered me the position.”
As undersheriff for the past seven years, Winders has had a responsibility to be the acting sheriff in the sheriff’s absence, he has supervised patrol, detention, dispatch.
With Sheriff Harris not electing to run again this year, Winders again would have been the heir apparent with his history and his experience, but his resignation now makes the sheriff’s race in Platte County between David Russell, Randy Chesser and Shane Clevenger.