Police chief leaving Manawa
By Jane Myhra
After 44 years in law enforcement, Manawa Police Chief David Walker is retiring.
“One day you wake up and realize the timing is right,” he said. “My wife, Joan, and I have talked about it for a very long time.”
Walker’s retirement is effective Sept. 19.
He plans to sell their house in the town of Bear Creek and move to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They believe the UP offers more opportunities to enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, kayaking and fishing.
“We are really looking forward to it,” Walker said.
Married for 22 years, they have seven children and nine grandchildren. Their focus will be on spending time together and visiting relatives, who are spread throughout the United States and Australia.
“I consider myself fortunate to reach this point,” Walker said. “Many people who started with me in law enforcement have passed, both on the job and off the job. I count my blessings.”
Walker was hired as chief of the Manawa Police Department on Jan. 1, 2009. Previously, he worked in law enforcement in Australia and in Seattle.
“Rural city policing is a lot different than in a large urban area,” Walker said. “It is more rewarding to work in a small community, where you can see the effects of doing a small part. It is more personalized.”
Since 2013, Walker served as joint police chief for the cities of Manawa and Marion.
“The shared chief position offered more challenges,” he said.
The biggest challenge was dealing with an influx of heroin into the local communities.
“We were pretty successful in keying in on some of the major drug dealers,” Walker said. “All of the communities came together to step up efforts to counteract and investigate the drug problem.”
In early 2015, the Manawa Common Council decided not to continue the shared chief agreement. Going forward, the city of Manawa will look for a new police chief.
“The choice was always on the table to go back to the way it was,” Walker said.
Starting Aug. 17 until his retirement date, Walker will consecutively take his remaining vacation and compensation hours.
Cpl. Michelle Kamba has been appointed as Officer in Charge in Manawa. Officer Kevin Schultz will be the OIC in Marion.
Throughout his 44 years in law enforcement, Walker saw a lot of changes.
These changes include shared investigations, sharing equipment and improved communication between departments.
“There have been a lot of positive changes in the past seven years for law enforcement in general throughout Waupaca County,” he said. “There has been a shift from only looking after what’s in your jurisdiction and being more aware of what happens in other jurisdictions and how it affects you.”
Walker used a recent spree of burglaries as an example.
“Through better communication with other agencies, we were able to apprehend the suspects and link them to other crimes,” he said.
Walker feels he accomplished many good things in Manawa.
“You want to leave something better than how you found it,” he said.
Overall, Walker feels he is leaving Manawa with better trained officers. He worked with his officers to broaden their professional horizons and encouraged them to get more involved in their communities.
Becoming involved outside of police work is “the right thing to do,” according to Walker. “There’s always something more you can do to help the greater community.
While in Manawa, he became involved with the Revitalization Group.
“I did my small part in helping to keep businesses in Manawa, but it’s really about everybody coming together,” he said.
Walker encourages people to support local businesses and the local school district and to get involved with community organizations.
“Everybody should step up to help their community,” he said. It’s not going to grow without everyone’s help.”