WINONA LAKE — “God has just led me in this direction. His handprint has been on my whole career,” said the new Winona Lake Town Marshal Joe Hawn.
Hawn said when he was a sophomore at Columbia City High School, a counselor asked him what he wanted to do with his life after graduation. Hawn stated he had no idea. He said the counselor got on “that new thing called a computer” and pulled up spreadsheets of possible careers. Hawn was immediately intrigued by law enforcement.
After the talk with the counselor, Hawn, at 17 years old, joined the Columbia City Police Department reserves to see if he liked law enforcement. Hawn stayed as a reserve, which he says was more like being a cadet, from 1980 until 1984. He rode on patrol with police officers, talked on the radio, but was not allowed to carry a gun.
Turns out Hawn loved law enforcement and decided to study criminal justice at Indiana University–Purdue University, Fort Wayne. In 1988, Hawn was no longer a reserve and was hired April 1, 1988, as a dispatcher for the Warsaw Police Department. Later that year, in October, he became a patrolman and worked the streets on a rotation of seconds and the graveyard shift. Hawn loved being a patrolman and said, “I was a doggone good patrol officer.” A sentiment that no one can argue.
In 1998, Hawn became a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer at the request of Town Manager Craig Allebach, who was chief of police at the time. Hawn moved between being a DARE officer and a WPD detective from 1998-2013, two positions he said he loved being in.
When the Winona Lake town marshal position became available, Hawn said Winona Lake residents asked him why he didn’t apply for the job. Hawn gave the idea some thought, talked with his wife, Lynette, then called Allebach for the specifics of the job. Thinking the position would be a good fit, Hawn applied and was appointed.
Hawn is a firm believer in community and family. He and his wife are very active members of Walnut Creek Church and are co-youth leaders. Hawn said he’s also a lover of sports and plays softball for the church team.
Hawn is also proud of his children and said, “My kids are very important to me.” His family was in attendance, supporting him, the day he was sworn in as town marshal.
In closing, Hawn said, “I wouldn’t change a thing about my career. My life has been blessed and it’s due to the Warsaw community.”