'I’m as happy as can be,' Former Sheriff Winder now protects the streets of Moab

'I’m as happy as can be,' Former Sheriff Winder now protects the streets of Moab (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) – Jim Winder is a household name in Salt Lake County – where, for years, he led a sheriff’s office of more 2,200 employees and investigated some of the most high-profile crimes in Utah.

Winder now spends his days patrolling the streets of Moab and leading a considerably smaller police department of just 22 employees.

“I’m as happy as can be,” Winder told 2News this week. “Any given day I can be out in this, I can jump on the bicycle.”

He’s been on the job for around 6 months and Friday he took 2News on a tour of his new beat in the tourist town in central Utah.

In a characteristically Jim Winder way, he took reporter Chris Jones to a spot overlooking the Colorado River near Moab and proclaimed “Does not suck, my friend.”

His life now is far different from what it was a year ago.

“I got to tell you, at the end of that period of time, I felt like I was a rubber band was about to snap,” Winder said.

Winder’s last years as Sheriff were particularly difficult.

In 2016, Unified Police lost Officer Doug Barney when he was fatally shot while investigating a traffic crash in Holladay.

Officer Jon Richey was injured by the same gunman, but recovered from his injuries. Richey died last year in his Salt Lake City home from natural causes.

In the same month, Unified Police mourned the loss of Detective Brian Holdaway, and Detective Brooks Green, who also died from natural causes.

“Something happened to me emotionally,” Winder said. “For the first time in my 32 year career and I almost could not go to work.”

It was at about that same time that Moab had an opening for a police chief. Winder applied and was hired.

Winder says he enjoys spending time on patrol and meeting the people who live and visit Moab. He says it’s a big change from his administrative role of the largest police agency in the state, but it has given his family and work lives balance.

“Balance, balance balance, is where it’s at, otherwise what is it really all about?” Winder said.

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