Deputy Jason Winston on Bridging a Gap Between Law Enforcement and Community

Deputy Jason Winston has been named the new Public Information Officer, he has his sights set on improving community policing and outreach, and as the first Black officer in Willard, he’s using his past experience to influence his perspective.

By Max Havey

Nov 2020

Deputy Jason Winston from Williard, MO
Photo by Brandon AlmsDeputy Jason Winston is the new Public Information Officer for the Greene County Sheriff's Department. Purchase Photo

On his goals as the new PIO:

“Finding a way to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community is one of my main goals because we’re not here just to arrest people. We’re here to serve the community, to get to know the businesses, churches, schools and different things like that, too.”

On his perspective as a Black officer who has risen through the ranks:

“I see my role as impacting the community in a positive way for other minorities. There aren’t many minority officers in the area, and there weren’t when I started, but I want people from my community to see that someone who looks like me, from my background, can be a cop at this level.”

On being the first Black officer in Willard:

“The community didn’t really treat me too differently. Even though I was an outlier, nobody made me feel abnormal there. I feel like we should absolutely recognize and honor breakthroughs, but we should also be offering people the same kind of respect.”

On his biggest life lesson:

“Don’t look at your age or situation and say I’m too old to do that. I got into law enforcement in my early ’30s, whereas most people that I work with, they're 10 years in by their early ’30s. If the opportunity is there, take the risk and go for it.” 

On his favorite part of the job:

“My favorite part is just being able to really be in contact with the community. If I see some kids playing basketball at the park, I can pull my car over, get out and play basketball with them. I can go talk to some of the farmers that live around here. There’s so much freedom with this job where I can communicate with people on a level that I didn’t have when I was on patrol or when I worked at the jail.”

On how COVID has been a roadblock to his goals as PIO:

“I took this position literally right before COVID hit. It hasn't been easy, but we're making the best of every opportunity we have. Hopefully one day, things will begin to open back up and we can really take the sheriff’s office out into the community.”

On how he balances his public and private personas:

“I don’t do social media. I handle the social media for the sheriff’s office because that’s part of my position, but I personally don't have any of the social media platforms. And I’m not saying that they’re wrong, but for me, I just choose not to display my life in that way.”

On what keeps him up at night:

“I know that everything that I say whether it be a phone interview, a phone call or a TV interview, I’m representing Sheriff Jim Arnott, and Greene County Sheriff’s Office. I don’t want to say or do something that’s going to tarnish the goal or the mission statement of the office and of all the other deputies that work for this office.”

On his favorite failure:

“I’m the type of person where I like routine. I consider that a character flaw, but one of the great things about this position is I don’t have the opportunity to default to that setting. I’m constantly being stretched and challenged, and it’s making me grow.”