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Williams to step down as chief in Winlock

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Winlock Police Chief Terry Williams (background, center) addresses cadets during the 2013 Police Academy in Winlock. Williams has submitted his letter of intent to retire as of June 30 after 36 years with the department.

Winlock Police Chief Terry Williams has announced his intent to retire as of June 30 after spending 15 years as head of the Winlock Police Department.

Williams had submitted a letter to Mayor Lonnie Dowell on March 31 detailing his intent to step down, and is scheduled to formally announce his decision during Monday's meeting of the Winlock City Council.

"It's been a good run," he stated Thursday, saying his career in law enforcement has been made of both good and bad experiences, "but mostly good."

Williams began as a reserve officer for Winlock in 1979 after spending time as a dispatcher and cadet for the City of Centralia, and became a full-time patrolman for Winlock in 1984. He eventually became chief in 2000 after the sudden passing of long-time chief Forrest "Mac" McPherson, with whom Williams had served since 1983. Williams said, considering the average tenure for Washington chiefs with small departments at the time was 18 months, he feels he "outlived those odds."

Among the reasons Williams did cite for stepping down was the way law enforcement has changed in recent years, both within Washington and across the country.

He said, since recreational marijuana use became legal statewide in 2013, it's been very difficult for officers to enforce marijuana-related laws and regulations, particularly as federal law still criminalizes marijuana use.

He also said the national outcry against law enforcement because of recent officer-involved shootings has led many members of the public to vilify police in general rather than those directly responsible.

"The public is just crucifying us," he said of many reactions he and other officers have received on social media and seen in the news, "everything we do."

But aside from these changes in the nature of policing, Williams said he may consider remaining with Winlock's department as a reserve officer, stating his decision depends on which law enforcement method the City Council adopts in the future.

During an interview Friday, Dowell said options before the council include either hiring a new chief, hiring a patrolman and contracting for chief services, or contracting with another agency for all law enforcement services.

Dowell said, since the city began looking at the possibility of a law enforcement contract at the end of last year, the Lewis County Sheriff's Office has been taken off the table, as their proposed rates would be too expensive. He added Toledo has expressed interest in exploring the idea, while his office has yet to approach Napavine.

Dowell said the decision of whether or not to contract with another agency will depend on whether or not it would save the city money and would likely call for different public forums and hearings to generate feedback from local residents.

"If we could save $30,000 to $50,000 a year through a police contract, it's worth looking into," he said.

The council is expected to have discussed their options during their Monday meeting after being officially informed of Williams' retirement.

When Williams was asked about what he plans to do after retiring, he said he remains uncertain at this time.

"I'm looking at other options," he said of potential professional prospects, "I'm looking to see what's out there, but it won't be in law enforcement."

When asked if he will become more heavily involved in his wife's beauty salon business, Yours, Mine & Ours, in Winlock, he said he is already quite involved with regular maintenance and did point out he is capable of executing a spiral perm.

"It's going to be interesting," he said of retirement, stating his departure from his position as chief is feeling "bittersweet."

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