Grafton — For David Podewils, there really wasn’t ever a question about what he was going to be when he “grew up.”
At the age of 5 years old he already knew the answer.
“It’s really something I always had in my head that I wanted to be a police officer,” said Podewils, who will retire this spring after more than 40 years of service to the Grafton Police Department. “I know my mom had a picture of me dressed up in a police uniform when I was 5, so I kind of just knew right away that’s what I wanted to do.”
Known more commonly in the community as Sgt. “Pods,” Podewils joined the department on Jan. 2, 1975.
“I’ve always really enjoyed what I do,” said Podewils, who has also been working as a school resource officer in Grafton for almost 30 years.
He credits the time he has spent in the five public school buildings, as well as at St. Joseph, St. Paul and Our Savior schools, for some of the most rewarding moments of his career.
“I have joked that my nickname stands for ‘portable on-demand security,’ but really it’s just a shortened version of my name,” Podewils said. “That being said, thinking back on my time with the department, I really think it’s the feeling I’ve gotten just walking around the school knowing I can be there as a trusted resource for people. That’s one of the things I’m most proud of (about my career).”
Being present in the schools as long as he has, Podewils said it’s been his pleasure to watch as students become parents and send their students through the same school.
“I’ve been honored to be that trusted person in the schools,” he said, citing his involvement with the Safety Town program as another thing he’s most enjoyed during his years of service.
“Pods has been an integral part of this agency and the community,” said Police Chief Charles Wenten, who has been with the department since 2003.
Wenten also cited Podewils’ work with the schools, dedication to the community and work as a school resource officer as being among his most notable contributions to the department.
“He was proficient in aspects of law enforcement and training,” Wenten said. “It was commonplace for Pods to leave his duties in school to take calls, assist with investigations or help out wherever he was needed. Never was there a task too small or too difficult for Pods to not take on with a smile and determination.”
Wenten added there will be a lot he and the department will miss upon Podewils’ departure this March.
“I will miss his humor, dedication, straight-forward honesty, professionalism and optimism,” he said. “I’ve had the sincere pleasure of working with many outstanding and dedicated people over the years. Sgt. David Podewils is at the top of that list and always will be.”
Podewils’ plans for the future are not certain, aside from his intention to continue working as a part-time officer for the Fredonia Police Department.
“People keep telling me I should have a plan, but I’m okay with the fact that I really don’t,” he joked.
His parents are nearby, as well as his three children, and Podewils said he will likely spend some of his free time with another childhood passion: Mack trucks. His collection includes about 500 models, in addition to a full-size 1939 Mack fire truck, which Podewils said he’d like to get up and running eventually.
His advice to new officers considering a career like his is simple.
“You respect others,” he said. “That’s something I learned when I started and that remains true to this day despite the changes in the field.”