As the community thanked Lt. Wes Breckenridge for more than 20 years at the Newton Police Department Friday, it wasn’t a time for farewells but a time for new beginnings as Breckenridge plans to continue serving the community through his position as a state representative.
Breckenridge was greeted by community members during his retirement party at the Newton City Hall Atrium and was surrounded by friends and family as they honored his 24 years of service to the Newton Police Department.
Breckenridge, 48, announced his retirement at the end of March due to a recurring shoulder injury. The NPD lieutenant has had six shoulder dislocations and three corrective surgeries over a several-year period. He has pain associated with three metal pins and three composite clamps installed in his right shoulder
Breckenridge’s most recent surgery was in June. He’s been on restrictive duty at NPD while in rehabilitation. Breckenridge said he received the news recently that he would not be able to return to patrol duty, and his injury-related retirement was effective March 31.
“It’s been an honor and pleasure to serve the citizens of Newton and Jasper County. I was on the sheriff’s reserve many years ago and taught DARE in Prairie City and here in Newton, and it’s been an honor and pleasure to interact with the community,” Breckenridge said.
Breckenridge was promoted to lieutenant in 2006 when an open position came up.
“We really have one of the most top-notch police departments in the state of Iowa, if not in the country. Chief Burdess and the whole staff does an outstanding job and are very professional in what they do,” Breckenridge said. “The department is very progressive and looking for other opportunities to expand and get community-wide education out there — I’m just really impressed with what Burdess is doing and how dedicated and professional the department is.”
NPD Chief Rob Burdess wished Breckenridge well and commended him for his leadership skills.
“I’ve worked with him in a number of capacities and he’s a great leader within the department and definitely a great asset to the community, and his leadership is also extending to the statehouse now, and he is going to continue to serve and be a great representative for our community,” Burdess said.
Breckenridge said he plans to continue to advocate for resources for those who struggle with mental health in the county.
“It’s been disappointing the lack of resources we have brought forth with mental health, and to me, the people of Jasper County are in crisis. We don’t have the resources, the beds, or the personnel to really do justice for those struggling and part of my focus is to continue to do what we can,” Breckenridge said.
Burdess echoed Breckenridge’s concerns of the lack of resources for mental health.
“That’s an effort we have been working on the past couple years more intentionally. New collaboration is a big start to that,” Burdess said. “With Iowa being ranked the last state in mental health care and Jasper County being on the lower end of that, we have nowhere to go but up.”
Breckenridge said his passion is his role at the statehouse and helping the public.
“I really want to engage and interact with community members and figure out what we can do to improve the quality of life in Jasper county,” Breckenridge said. “I also enjoy teaching and hopefully will have the opportunity to teach some criminal justice classes at DMACC.”
Breckenridge thanked those in the community who he has made connections with through his time at the NPD.
“It’s been a real pleasure and humbling I have such great friends and partners in the community and I’m very fortunate.”
Contact Kayla Langmaid at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org