Kirk retires from WPD, joins NMPD

By Amanda Bridgman

NORTH MANCHESTER -- Jim Kirk will begin investigating North Manchester crime May 31 as the police department’s new detective.

Kirk is currently detective-captain for Wabash City Police Department, where he’s worked the past 28 years. He’s retiring Saturday, April 30, and will have to wait 30 days before he can start work at NMPD.

His hiring was approved by the North Manchester Town Council at its April 13 meeting, after NMPD Chief Jeff Perry recommended Kirk to fill one of the three empty positions at the department after three officers resigned within one month.

“I know they’re struggling there with turnover,” Kirk said, adding that at age 52, he’s still looking to work another 10 years in law enforcement.

Kirk said during his career he’s built a good reputation with both county officials and the public alike. He believes that will be an asset he will bring to North Manchester residents. He also said he’ll be coming from a 27-man department to an 11-man department, and he’s looking forward to learning what plagues the town.

“Manchester’s a small town,” he said. “But you have the same crimes everywhere; it’ll just not be as many.”

He’ll work the first shift, five days a week Monday through Friday. Kirk also said the majority of his work will be from behind a desk, but if he’s asked to do different things like road patrol or help out when the department is short-handed, he won’t have a problem doing that.

“I spent 10 years working thirds,” he said. “With bad publicity of police, it’s getting hard to get good applicants to fill these empty positions.”

He said WPD is currently looking to hire four officers, and Wabash County Sheriff’s Department is trying to fill two. Kirk said between officers switching departments, like he is, and varying pay scales based on the law enforcement agency, finding the right person for the job and keeping them is a continuing problem.

“People want to feel safe,” he said. “I like helping people and dealing with the public.”

Kirk reflected on his 28-year career at WPD and said putting North Manchester’s Donald Samons away for life in 1999 was one of his proudest accomplishments.

Samons was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole for the stomping killing of a Wabash man in September 1999. Jon Voran was the victim, found on a Sunday morning by a mother and her children floating face down in the Wabash River at a popular fishing spot by the Huntington Street bridge in Wabash.

Kirk and his colleague Terri Music worked through the night, where their investigation took them to North Manchester.

“We worked all night,” Kirk said. “Then we wound up in North Manchester, through interviewing people, by  talking to people, our own leads, and we arrested him at 5:30 in the morning at the trailer park in North Manchester. It was still dark out when we showed up there and took him out of the trailer. 24 hours and we had him in custody.” 

Kirk said this type of detective work and dedication to helping the victim and finding the perpetrator is what North Manchester residents can expect out of him.

Kirk’s resume also includes working several child molestation cases, drug investigations and solving countless theft cases.

“Thefts like bicycles, officers can deal with that,” he said. “Now if you have a lot of thefts or a string of burglaries, things coming up missing, then I will investigate that type of stuff.”

Kirk and his wife, Karyl, have three adult children, Hannah, Abby and Noah. He is a member of the LaFontaine Christian Church and recently traveled on a mission trip to Piedras Negras, Mexico, in January of this year, where he spent a week building a housing addition.

“I’ll miss all the guys, mainly,” he said of retiring Saturday. “But it’s always fun to learn something new.”

Posted on 2016 May 03