Lt. Kim Stewart of Leesburg PD retires; looks back on his 30-year career
LEESBURG – Lt. Kim Stewart of the Leesburg Police Department celebrated his retirement on Wednesday, alongside Major George Whittaker and Captain Gary Barrett.
Over the years, Stewart has become a face for the department, overseeing the community services department which organizes major events like National Night Out, Skate with a Cop and the annual Christmas Bike and Giveaway.
Stewart spoke to The Daily Commercial, reflecting on her past 30 years in service.
sergeant. Stewart’s Final National Night:National Night Out returns to Leesburg with great success at Ski Beach
What made you decide to become a police officer?
Well, originally I wanted to be a lawyer, but I started working at Winter Garden in the late 80s and accompanied the officers. I liked the excitement. I’m an adrenaline junkie and curious by nature so this seemed like a natural fit. I decided to go to the police academy and Chief (Jim) Brown offered me a job in Leesburg when I graduated.
What have been some of your main tasks over the years?
I started as a patroller and became a field training officer early in my career. I also started teaching at the academy and was one of the first to be promoted to corporal as it was a new position at the time. From there, I became a highway patrol sergeant, which I loved. I loved being on the road. When Chief (Rob) Hicks arrived, he asked me to come to Community Services. I resisted at first because I liked being on the road, but I decided to give it a try and have been on it ever since.
What did you like about community service?
It’s about going out into the community and having a different kind of community engagement. Our most notable event was National Night Out. We did our first about six years ago and it has grown from there every year. It was something I looked forward to and the community really got involved.
With the help of our agents, we have created unique new events to simply get involved and get to know our community.
What event marked you the most?
The Christmas bike gift was one of my favorites. When I arrived, officers were taking unclaimed bicycles, cleaning them, and giving them to children in need for Christmas. It was a great program, so we took it and really amped it up. We started involving the community and were able to buy new bikes. The first year, we distributed about 50. Last year, it was more than 300 and each child received a personalized gift from Santa Claus. It’s a special event to give to those who probably weren’t going to get it.
Tell me about working with school resource officers.
Chief Hicks brought back the school resource officers who were under my supervision. I had two elementary and two high school agents. The school children interact with them a lot and create a special bond that allows them to view the officers in a positive light. It’s so rewarding for so many reasons. When we organize community events, these children immediately know these officers and are delighted to see them. With skating and bowling, painting with the Blues, and even the Officer’s Dance, kids could interact and see them in a different light.
What has been your greatest accomplishment?
Looking back, I think of building and fostering relationships both within the department and the community. I have dedicated more than half of my life to the city of Leesburg. My job has always been more than a salary. I loved what I did. It was very difficult but also very rewarding. I think we would all agree that law enforcement has changed over the years and they have become my second family. I am honored to have served with them and for our fellow citizens.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I’m taking time for myself and taking everything. Things were going so fast the whole time and to be honest, I’m a little scared to slow down. We just built a house on the river, so we’re going to spend some family time and see what happens next. I’m sure I won’t be sitting for long.