by Amelia Wedemeyer
Winona will soon welcome a new prominent face to the community, a face that may be familiar to some. Winona Police Department (WPD) officer Eric Mueller, who has been with the WPD for over 13 years, will soon start as the WPD’s community liaison officer, replacing Kevin Kearney, who was recently promoted to police sergeant and will now work as supervisor of the second-shift patrol.
“Once in my position, I will be happy to meet with anyone to discuss issues which might better our community,” Mueller said of his impending role.
As the liaison officer, Mueller will continue Kearney’s role as the prime WPD outreach contact with the Winona community. The liaison works with several facets of the community and helps to provide residents with resources and services, as well as pertinent information, including crime prevention and neighborhood watch data, the presence of predatory offenders in Winona, and alcohol and drug prevention education.
It is an important position that includes getting to know many community members, and has irregular hours, but Mueller says that he has Kearney to look to for words of wisdom and general knowledge of the job.
“I’m sure Kevin is getting tired of me bugging him,” Mueller joked before adding, “He laid a great foundation and established many solid relationships in Winona during his years in this position. His experience is one of my best resources. I intend to not only maintain those relationships, but I have my own ideas on how to expand and implement new programs and innovations.”
Mueller said that he hopes to widen the opportunity for community interaction through the addition of new programs, depending on the number of partnerships and amount of funding that can be secured. He also mentioned promoting a greater awareness and understanding of mental illness and additional attention to animal abuse issues.
“I’m open to exploring anything that promotes a better living environment for the citizens of Winona,” Mueller explained.
In addition to potential new programs, Mueller said that he expects and welcomes feedback from the community regarding his new role. He also made it clear that he is coming in with 20 years experience in “the trenches” as a street officer, so he is accustomed to many situations that he will most likely face as community liaison officer.
“I can relate to most people and I have a clear understanding of most of the problems that all communities face today,” he explained. “Drugs, juvenile issues, violence and abuse — I’ve seen it all. I want folks to know that I won’t always tell you what you want to hear, but you can rest assured that it will be honest.”
As for Kearney, though he is excited about his new role as police sergeant, he said he will miss working with the Winona community; however, knows Mueller will do a good job.
“I will miss many community members and programs that I have been a part of for years,” Kearney said of the position that he has held since 2008. “I wish Officer Mueller the best of luck! I'm excited to see what he will be able to bring to that position, and to our community.”