Winkels recommended as public safety director

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

Albert Lea’s city manager is asking the City Council Monday to affirm his appointment of Police Chief Dwaine Winkels as the city’s public safety director.

Dwaine Winkels

In the position, Winkels would oversee operations in both the fire and police departments, eliminating the positions of police chief and fire chief.

Winkels has been with the city for 27 years, the past seven as police chief. He has also been working as interim fire chief for the past 13 months, following the retirement of former Fire Chief Paul Stieler.

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Earlier this year, the Fire Department was reviewed by an outside consultant firm to determine whether it should be restructured and who should lead it.

The evaluation came as the city is dealing with tight budget times with the loss of state funding and other revenue.

City Manager Chad Adams said during the last year he had met with fire and inspection staff, evaluated leadership structures for the department and worked with Winkels on handling different needs.

“I believe that Mr. Winkels has provided strong leadership, communication, interpersonal, team-building and strategic planning skills that are needed to lead the Fire and Inspections Department and to implement a number of recommendations outlined in the fire services study,” Adams said.

If the position is approved, Winkels will make just shy of $93,000 annually.

When he was police chief and interim chief, he made $88,847 a year as police chief plus a $1,000/month stipend for being acting fire chief.

“Working with the departments for the past year, I have developed a good understanding of the needs of the Fire Department and look forward to the opportunity to find a solution that balances those needs with the needs of the city,” Winkels said.

Adams stressed that though the two departments would be headed up by the same director, they would not be merged into one large department.

Winkels said he is not anticipating any major changes in the structure of the Police Department, and the structure of the Fire Department is yet to be determined by the City Council, most likely by the end of August.