Giving up her patrol vehicle for a camper bus, popular Crestview Police Officer Wanda Hulion retired March 23 following a 15-year career with the agency. A couple weeks later, she returned to the Police Department for a very special memento.
Her service pistol.
As a member of the Community Policing Division, Officer Hulion’s duties were largely defined by those who needed her caring touch at the moment.
“I know during the next several years we’re going to be discovering those holes where Wanda took care of something,” Police Chief Stephen McCosker said during a reception in her honor. “The impact she has had on the community has been immeasurable.”
An unassuming grandmother of five, and one of the community’s most familiar figures, Wanda was selected from the ranks of Crestview Police officers as the agency’s Officer of the Year for 2017.
Operations Division Major Andrew Schneider cited her effectiveness as a Community Services officer whose myriad duties include supervising school zones, training civilian volunteers, co-instructing the Citizens Police Academy and the Youth Academy, adviser to the Crestview Citizens Police Academy Alumni, establishing Neighborhood Watch programs, performing business security assessments, starting the special needs games night program, and presenting school and daycare safety programs.
“Wanda does cool stuff,” Maj. Schneider said. “She spearheaded several programs voluntarily for the community.”
Typically, Wanda was shy about the attention she received at her retirement reception.
“I’ve just been doing my job out in the community,” she said.
Having started as a patrol officer, Officer Hulion knows all aspects of police work. Periodically, when extra hands were needed on the road, Wanda was back in her patrol uniform and cruising the streets of Crestview.
“It’s very interesting to see how a person reacts to a male officer versus a female officer,” Ofc. Wanda Hulion said. “It’s a good, different way. They see me as a mother figure.”
Longtime officers still talk about the time Officer Hulion responded to a potential fight at a local watering hole. She just walked into the pub and as the crowd parted before her, walked up to the belligerent drunk, and said, “Now you don’t want to be doing any of that. Let’s just go on home and sleep it off.”
All the potential troublemaker could say was, “Yes, ma’am,” hang his head and lurch out of the bar where a buddy waited to take him home.
“Wanda is that one officer that would help you clear a house (of bad guys) in the middle of the night and the next day at work, she’d drop off brownies for the other officers on her way to give a speech to a youth group about school safety while giving rookie officers solid career advice,” K9 Officer Nate Marlar said. “She checks all the boxes.”
“She’s always ready to help other officers,” Officer Don Howe said. “She’s a huge asset to the organization, and being in Community Services, she’s in the perfect field. She loves helping the community.”
“She has truly been an honor to work with,” Officer Marlar said.
Officer Hulion’s partner, Officer Sam Kimmons, said that once she joined Community Services, together they were been able to vastly expand the division and provide more programs and services to the community.
“Wanda is a great partner,” Officer Kimmons said. “She was born and raised in Crestview and she cares deeply for her community. She is a giving person and on more than one occasion, she has bought materials for our programs with her own money.”
Community Services is a whole different type of police work than most officers experience, Officer Hulion said.
“It’s not as exciting as patrol, but it has its rewards,” she said. “I like working with the kids. Anything community oriented, I’m all about. I do the job because I like helping people, and you get to help a lot of people in Community Service.”
Now enjoying her first weeks of retirement, Wanda Hulion and her husband, Mark, are renovating a school bus into a camper and looking forward to hitting the roads of America. But she’ll always think fondly on her career as a law enforcement officer.
“I enjoyed it,” she said, “It’s been a wild ride and I’m going to miss it, but I’m ready for the next chapter.”