Santa Clara’s second top cop leaving for a job in tech
Assistant Chief Dan Winter will be retiring from the Santa Clara Police Department in June. Photo courtesy of the City of Santa Clara.

An 18-year-old Dan Winter picked up his badge and gun right out of high school in 1988. Now 32 years later, he’s decided to retire from the Santa Clara Police Department as soon as he reached retirement age, turning 50 Tuesday.

“I’ve been at it a long time, so it was time to try something new,” Winter told San José Spotlight. “I’ve never worked for the private sector, so it’s all new and exciting.”

Serving in the Mission City since 1999 and as assistant chief the past six years, he said the timing was right for a transition, feeling he’d accomplished all he needed to in the position. His last day will be in June. Winter’s now looking forward to his next challenge as a security operations manager at Intel Corporation’s international headquarters, which is only 1.5 miles south of Levi’s Stadium.

“This opportunity presented itself and it’s great because I get to stay in Santa Clara,” Winter said. “I love the city – this is where I’ve been working for the last 20 years. I get to still serve and protect in the city of Santa Clara, just in a different capacity up at their international headquarters here in town.”

This isn’t the first retirement the department has seen recently. Former Police Chief Mike Sellers retired in September – after joining as a cadet in 1978 – nearly a year before his term ended. Winter initially jumped into the race to replace Sellers, but dropped out before the March primary election to avoid creating tension in the department.

Pat Nikolai, who ran uncontested in the primary, won the seat. Winter said there’s no animosity between the two men.

“We’ve been working well together. There’s no issues with that at all whatsoever,” Winter said. “I wish Chief Nicholai all the best as he moves the department forward.”

Nikolai agreed.

“(Winter) has been an invaluable resource to me as I transitioned to chief,” Nikolai said in a statement. “I have appreciated his support and willingness to share ideas for the future of the department. Dan will be sorely missed by everyone here at the Santa Clara Police Department.”

However, he’s not retiring from his passion in life: the Special Olympics. Winter said he’s looking forward to continuing to serve as the state director for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics.

But as he transitions out and trains the department’s “deep bench” of officers to fill any leadership gaps he leaves behind, he said he’s going to miss the people at the Santa Clara Police Department and City Hall most.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to rise to the rank that I’m at here as assistant chief and work for this department. It’s been a true blessing,” Winter said. “I’ll miss the people that I work with every day and miss the camaraderie that you have, especially with the officers.”

Contact Katie Lauer at katie@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @_katielauer on Twitter.

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