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From cop to candidate: Sgt. Sam Winkler goes from police work to politics

Behind the Badge

SOUTH JORDAN (ABC4 News) –  A longtime South Jordan Police Department officer has a “capitol” idea: to serve the people he protects in the Utah legislature.

In 20 years on the job, Sergeant Sam Winkler has seen South Jordan go from a sleepy suburb with 30,000 residents to a busy city of more than 70,000. Now he’s undergoing his own transformation: from cop to candidate.

Sgt. Winkler says he knew his career path from an early age.

“I was that kid that was always the cop in cops and robbers,” he told Behind The Badge. “I would make the siren sounds in the car, freak my parents out.”

During his 22 -year law enforcement career Sgt. Winkler has earned numerous awards, including the Life Saving Award for rescuing a choking child at a Halloween party.

“I was able to run and perform the Heimlich Maneuver,” he recalled. “And was able to dislodge a hot dog out of that child and save that child.”

Most recently he’s been a public information officer, the one who steps in front of the TV cameras during a major incident.

“I love dealing with the media,” Sgt. Winkler said. “It’s a way that one of our core values is to be transparent and getting that information out to you and the citizens is part of the transparency.”
Now the husband and father of three has now decided to take on a new role: running for State Representative in Utah’s 42nd District as a Democrat to deal with problems such as population density, traffic congestion, poor air quality, and teen suicide.

“I’ve always kind of sat on the side saying ‘You know what? These things need to be fixed’,” Sgt. Winkler said. “I decided ‘You know what? Now’s the time to be that person to make those changes, a person that’s been in the field, seeing these issues.'”

Cities and police departments don’t endorse candidates and Sgt. Winkler is running his campaign on his own personal time but he says his years of law enforcement have prepared him to be a lawmaker.

“I’ve worked in a career that has required me to look at the evidence, to listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision,” he said. “That’s what I want to do. I want to listen to both sides of the argument and truly make a decision that’s best for the people in this area and the state of Utah based upon the evidence that I have and not just make a decision based upon who’s giving me the most money or who says this is right or wrong. I want to make sure I listen to both sides.”

Sgt. Winkler told Behind The Badge that if he’s elected in November, he’ll have to work out a leave of absence next January, temporarily hanging up his uniform for a suit during the 45-day legislative session.

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