Veteran Winsted police officer named interim chief

WINSTED – Sgt. Kevin Kinahan, a longtime member of the Winsted Police Department, has been chosen to serve as interim chief upon the departure of Chief of Police  William T. Fitzgerald Jr. 

Fitzgerald announced his retirement in late 2022. After seven years, his last day as chief will be Feb. 1. His retirement marks a period of transition for the Winchester Police Department, where a search is underway to select a new permanent chief, Town Manager Josh Kelly said. 

Kinahan has had a long and respected career with the department, joining the team as a sworn officer in 1989, Kelly said. He was promoted to sergeant in 1999 and has held the position of sergeant detective since that time. "It's been about 34 years," he said. "I started in 1988 with the department's marine (lake) patrol, and joined the patrol division in September 1989."

Kinahan has served as interim chief multiple times in the past, as well. He said Monday that he is confident that Kelly and the committee will find a new chief soon. 

"Hopefully it will move forward quickly," he said. "I'm confident of the process we follow."

“The Town of Winchester is fortunate to have dedicated officers and leaders like Sgt. Kinahan ready and willing to take on additional responsibilities when duty requires,” said Kelly. “Sgt. Kinahan has my full faith and trust, and I believe that he will be a stalwart steward of the department between now and the swearing in of the next chief of police.”

As interim chief, Kinahan will oversee the daily operations of the Police Department, managing shifts and working with officers. He and other members of the department are working on the department's 2023-24 budget proposal. All departments are preparing their budgets now, he said. 

Kinahan said he knows his officers will continue to work as a team. "We have a great group of officers," he said. 

"I think this is a time when the officers show that they are doing their best," Kinahan said. "I couldn't do it without them, as interim. It's definitely a team effort, and their cooperation and dedication is important. They'll hopefully make a new chief proud of the work they do."

The application window for the chief position is closed, with applications having been due on or before Jan. 13. While the town received 15 highly qualified applications for the position, Kinahan was not among those that applied for the position.

Kelly is assembling multiple interview panels that will assess and evaluate the candidates’ skills and abilities, and a selection may be made as early as sometime in February. Kinahan will remain the interim chief of police until the next chief is sworn in, Kelly said. 

Kinahan said he will miss Fitzgerald, and wished him the best. "He's been here seven years, so he's become part of the team," he said. "I with him the best in his retirement and whatever new endeavors he's got planned."