Father and Daughter Both Love Being Blue
Like any proud father, Stan Knee has memories of his daughter that bring a wistful smile to his face. The first day of school, the time she caught a winning touchdown in middle school, the way she looked on graduation day.
And, of course, that day she put a major hurt on a wild-eyed suspect who tried to resist arrest.
“She rassled him right to the ground,” recalled Knee, the Garden Grove police chief and father of Susan Winslow, a rookie cop in Orange. “That was great.”
They are a family in blue, a veteran lawman who leads one of the county’s most progressive police departments and his daughter, a 22-year-old learning the cop life. He is an advocate of community policing, and she is a front-line example of the philosophy in action.
Still, they are father and daughter first. Winslow rolled her eyes as Knee described her take-down of a crazed suspect during her first few months on the force. “That’s not how it was. . . . There were four or five of us. He makes it sound like I was alone.”
Knee smiled and shrugged as the pair walked through the corridors of the Garden Grove police station, a building that has been his workplace since the 1960s and Winslow’s private playground throughout her childhood.
After school, Winslow often walked to the station to spend her afternoon exploring, listening to dispatchers, even sneaking a peek at the prisoners in the holding cells. The sights and sounds intrigued and inspired her.
“I loved everything about it,” Winslow said. “There was always something going on. And it always felt like a family.”
When Winslow pursued a blossoming career in retail management after high school graduation and flirted with education as a profession, it seemed her police station days were over.
But other jobs didn’t seem as fulfilling as the path chosen by her father, Winslow said, and she began to consider the badge as an option.
She made her decision to become a cop on one of the Garden Grove department’s darkest days, the day she first saw her father cry. As thousands of uniformed mourners gathered for the May 1993 funeral of slain officer Howard E. Dallies Jr., Winslow saw a solemn unity and purpose in their procession.
Despite the pain and loss being marked by the funeral, Winslow was inspired to become a full member of the extended family she had known since childhood.
“It’s hard to explain, but I felt like I wanted to be part of it.”
A photograph of Dallies sits on Knee’s desk, a daily reminder of the 36-year-old officer who was gunned down by a motorcyclist during a routine traffic stop. The gunman has eluded capture.
The dangers of the streets are familiar to 47-year-old Knee, who became a patrol officer in Garden Grove in 1969, fresh from a tour of duty in Vietnam as an Army lieutenant. He said he gravitated to the career because it was a way to contribute to society, work outdoors and, he said, “get me some excitement.”
The excitement of patrol was the last thing he was thinking about last Monday when Winslow began her first stint on the midnight shift. “It was on my mind,” Knee said, recalling the restless night. His fears are allayed by his daughter’s skills and judgment, he said, but a father still worries.
Having a police chief for a father can be an extra burden on a police recruit, especially a very young woman trying to make her way through a traditionally male career path.
Winslow heard the snide remarks when she was made a squad leader during academy training, but she said it only pushed her harder to prove her mettle. She was told by superiors at the Orange Police Department that she might be the youngest officer they ever hired.
“I earned what I have,” she said. “I worked hard to get here, and I think everyone knows that. I love my job.”
The nature of the job is far different from the role Knee and his contemporaries had in the 1960s.
Orange Police Chief R. John Robertson, Winslow’s boss and a former colleague of Knee’s, described the guiding goals of police work in the 1970s as making arrests and quickly moving on to the next call. Putting out fires, so to speak.
Now community policing is the watchword, especially at the Garden Grove department, which has been honored in recent months for its program based on the philosophy.
Winslow herself is a devout supporter.
She said she most enjoys building partnerships within the community and reaching out to help people solve problems that go beyond the traditional duties of officers.
She cites the day she helped an elderly man find someplace to go when his wife died, waiting with him at the hospital while fellow officers searched for a relative.
It had nothing to do with arrests or crime, but it was an example of the direction police work has headed, Winslow said.
“It can be extremely rewarding.”
Robertson knows the careers of both Knee and Winslow well. Knee was Robertson’s sergeant when both were on patrol in Garden Grove, then Knee served as a captain when Robertson was made chief of the department. Knee took the top post when Robertson moved to Orange.
“Stan in his day was excellent and Susan is very talented, but there are a lot of differences,” Robertson said. “It’s a different job now, so she does it differently than we did. We expect big things from her here.”
With a chuckle, Robertson said he looks forward to Winslow and Knee sitting down in 20 years and “comparing war stories.”
Winslow isn’t thinking that far ahead. She is still getting a fix on her new life and her new extended family.
“I still feel like a little kid sister to the cops, like I’m still wandering around the place getting into trouble and asking questions.”
Just like the old days?
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Profile: Stan Knee
Job: Garden Grove police chief
Childhood: Born in Long Beach, raised in Garden Grove
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Cal State Fullerton; master’s from Cal State Long Beach
Other service: Teaches at Cal State Fullerton; Vietnam vet
On the difficulties of police work: “The job of police officer has never been more complex, never more difficult. It requires you to be part social worker, part teacher and part community activist.”
Profile: Susan Winslow
Job: Orange police officer
Childhood: Born in Fullerton, raised in Garden Grove
Education: Garden Grove High School and Golden West Police Academy
Other service: Former reserve police officer in Laguna Beach
Attitude: “I don’t ever want to tarnish this badge. There have been problems in law enforcement and criticism, but what other people do and say is out of my power. All I can do is hold my head up higher and work harder to prove myself.”
Sources: Stan Knee and Susan Winslow; Researched by GEOFF BOUCHER / For The Times