By Leah Sander
WARSAW — Kip Shuter views overseeing the Kosciusko County Emergency Management Agency director position as a “collaboration.”
“It’s not just one person. It’s a collaboration of all the emergency services of all our government working together, of all of our community working together to solve these problems and issues,” he said. “We’re here in a support role, basically. We’re not here to take over; we’re not here to do the jobs; we’re here to recommend and provide the support that all the other agencies in our community need.”
Shuter started in January as the EMA’s deputy director. He’ll move up to the head role when current director Ed Rock retires at the end of March.
Shuter said he applied for the role due to desiring a return to emergency services.
“I had previously been in law enforcement for 35 years, had retired from the Warsaw Police Department back in 2017, worked for Grace College for five years and wanted to get back into emergency services,” he said, adding he had been “a firefighter for Winona Lake for over 20 years.”
“Emergency management kind of encompasses all of emergency services, and … having been involved with two aspects of it, I thought my background, my training, my experiences, my skill sets were pretty well-developed to be able to move into this type of position,” he added.
Shuter’s originally from LaPorte, coming to the area in the 1980s to go to Grace College.
He first studied music and journalism, ultimately graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and minor in criminal justice. He should finish up his Master of Business Administration from Grace this spring.
Shuter’s interest in criminal justice stemmed from working as a photographer with The LaPorte Herald-Argus and covering accidents and fires.
“There was just something that sparked in me,” he said. “I had ideas as a child as a lot of kids do wanting to be a police officer or a fireman, but that really just sparked that interest in me of I want to be involved in helping solve these problems and these issues instead of just taking pictures of it.”
Shuter started working for the WPD in 1986.
“I retired as … captain of operations … but I had been just about everything you could dream of there,” he said. “I was patrol division commander at one point and field training commander, field training officer. My specialty at Warsaw PD was crash investigation, crash reconstruction, and that flowed into being part of the countywide F.A.C.T. team.”
“Being involved in crash investigation got me involved in (the Indiana Association of Certified Accident Investigators),” said Shuter, with him holding various leadership roles in the IACAI, including his current position of president.
Shuter also said he’s connected to the international crash reconstruction association, the World Reconstruction Exposition. He noted his previous emergency services experience means he has plenty of contacts both locally and beyond.
“I was instructor at the academy for almost 20 years for crash investigation, so that networking with people, new basic recruits and if they had a crash question or something, they could call me on the phone and I would answer questions for them and same for the fire service, I was a 2, 3 certified level instructor,” he said. “That networking also got me outside of Kosciusko County and into areas throughout the state … so I’ve got a really good set of people that I can reach out to.”
Rock noted he’ll be available after his retirement for Shuter to contact if he has questions regarding parts of the job.
Planning encompasses a large part of the EMA director’s job, and Rock said Shuter is free to change the way plans are done if he wishes.
“Once I have left this position, then it’s going to be up to him,” he said. “How does he want to make emergency management work for Kosciusko County?”
“I’m really excited for this,” said Shuter. “I’m excited to see where I can help develop it and take it even further than what Ed has done, not that he has done anything wrong or taken us down the wrong path or anything, but I would just like to enhance it even more.”
Shuter also brings grant-writing experience to the role.
“I took care of all the grants for Warsaw PD, plus I took care of grants for our accident association,” he said. “I would like to … help our agencies and help our community (by) bringing more grants for our community and for our other emergency services.”
Rock said he’s “ecstatic” about Shuter replacing him.
“I want to see where he’s going to take this because he knows that I don’t own any of this. This is the job and however you decide to make it work once I’m out of here, I have no problem with that,” he said. “He’s got more in the tech side of it than I do … he’s going to be able to build on that and get it out there. The contacts that he’s made, all of those are a huge advantage for him to move this forward and to move it forward probably at a faster pace than what I was.”
Shuter has been married to Sandi almost 35 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.