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Trading Blues for Greens

Featured Photo from Trading Blues for Greens

The recently retired Police Chief of Winter Springs continues to serve the community he loves.

At age 53, former Winter Springs Police Chief Kevin Brunelle is still keeping busy. His wife Kelley works full-time for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department, and she’s calling for some long-overdue backup.

“I’ll be making her lunch and doing other things around the house,” Kevin chuckles. “We talked about that.”

Kevin will also be continuing work he started years ago – he’s an adjunct criminal-justice professor at Seminole State College and a drivers’ education teacher for Seminole County Public Schools. 

The criminal-justice instruction includes advanced training for current officers, a way for Kevin to remain connected with officers around the area and offer his own special insight. 

“I can share my perspective with current police officers, to help them better handle situations,” Kevin says.

But it won’t be all work and no play in retirement. Kevin definitely plans to invest some quality time in his golf game.

An Impactful Presence

Born in Maine, Kevin was part of an Air Force family that often relocated until they settled in Florida in 1972. 
He became a patrol officer in Winter Springs in 1998, working his way up through the ranks. He was named Chief at the start   of 2009. 

Kevin says it’s unusual to stay in law enforcement in one community for so long, but the fact that he worked in so many different positions within the Winter Springs Police Department gave him a great deal of credibility. Kevin always knew what patrol officers and others were going through because he’d already gone through it himself. 

Some of Kevin’s accomplishments made national headlines. Others got more low-key recognition in the community itself, but Kevin always strove to improve Winter Springs overall.

A year after Kevin was named Chief, for example, Winter Springs resident Nadia Bloom went missing in the swampy woods outside her neighborhood. Kevin called in Florida’s Child Abduction Response Team, bringing in valuable resources, equipment, and personnel. After days of searching, Nadia was found riddled with bug bites but otherwise safe. The case got nationwide news coverage. Kevin will never forget the experience and appreciates how rewarding it is to know how well Nadia, now 21, is doing today.

A Legacy of Leadership

“Chief Brunelle’s continued service to the community of Winter Springs is unprecedented,” says Chris Deisler, the incoming Chief of Police for Winter Springs. Chris began his career as a road patrol officer with Kevin.

Chris is quick to celebrate Kevin’s Lock It or Lose It initiative, in which Winter Springs Police Officers went door-to-door to encourage residents to lock their cars to prevent theft. The program was an unqualified success, reducing thefts from vehicles by 26 percent in the first year. Kevin says more than 90 percent of such thefts were the result of unlocked cars, and he points out the car is where most homeowners keep their garage-door openers, as well. 

“It takes away the opportunity to be a victim,” Kevin says. “We had a great success rate. The crime rate was down. Burglars aren’t big on smashing windows.”

Other programs implemented under Kevin’s leadership included Shop with a Cop, where children in the community go holiday shopping with officers who donate time and funds. RU OK? (Are You OK?)  is another program that puts police-accessible lockboxes at the homes of seniors who may require daily checks, so police officers can get inside if the residents can’t be reached by phone.

Kevin graduated the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and also founded the department’s first SWAT team. He is very proud of the 70 sworn officers and 21 civilian employees he led in Winter Springs. And the community itself is a source of pride for Kevin. 

“It made my job as a chief much easier,” he says. “I knew the community, and they knew me.”

Meet Chief Deisler

New Winter Springs Chief of Police Chris Deisler has spent his entire adult life serving in the Winter Springs Police Department. He joined the force in 1992 at the age of 19 – legally too young to buy his own ammunition. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1998 and spent the next two decades moving up the ranks and serving in nearly every WSPD division. When Chief Brunelle retired, Chris was named the acting Chief of Police, and his role was made official on May 27.

Chief Deisler has been married to his wife, Keely, since 2011. They have a daughter Keaton and a feisty Morkie named Molly.

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