Retired TPD Sgt. rides years of training into second career

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) For most, retirement is a time to kick back and relax.

Retired TPD Sgt. Jeff Whisler spent 32 years with the department before his retirement in 2015. Since then, he's used his years of training to continue to serve the city of Topeka.

Not for Jeff Whisler. If anything, he's twice as busy as he was while working full time for the Topeka Police Department.

Whisler is the first to tell you he experienced a lot in his 32 years as a member of the Topeka Police Department. One of the most notable incidents happened on an icy January day.

“I was hit by a driver on my 30th birthday, back in 1993, right here at 3rd and I-70, and I still remember it was a black Volkswagen Jetta with New York license plates,” Whisler said.

Jeff was able to avoid serious injury that day, but it was a close call that really opened his eyes to how things can change at a moment’s notice.

Like the events on August 5, 1993.

“Back then I worked 10 to 6, and I was coming on duty around 9:20-ish when that all started. I was crossing 5th street in front of the old police station when i heard the blast, looked up and saw the smoke coming from the Federal Building. I knew right then something bad was going on,” he said.

Whisler was a member of the SWAT team when Jack Gary McKnight unleashed hours of terror inside the Carlson Federal Building in downtown Topeka. He was on one of the first teams to go inside.

“Gene Goldsberry, the trooper that was killed -- we moved forward, officers then grabbed him and brought him back. It was a long day, a real long day,” Whisler recalled.

It was moments like this that helped shape Whisler into the stickler for preparation and details man that he is today. Those life lessons, combined with years of law enforcement training are paying off in big dividends within the City of Topeka’s Emergency Management office now.

“Topeka is safer with Jeff being here in the Emergency Management office. When we get a call, he knows exactly where it is. If I have to step out, I know he has everything under control here because that’s how he ran his motor unit when he was a sergeant," according to the agency's director Jim Green.

Jeff Whisler joined the city in his current capacity only about three months ago. Green says he was about as “turn-key” of an employee as they come.

“I’m passionate about keeping responders safe, keeping motorcyclists safe, and the things that I’ve learned I want to pass on to other people,” Whisler went on to say.

Before his July 2015 retirement, Whisler led TPD’s Motorcycle Unit to an impressive showing at the Midwest Motorcycle Police Challenge. In all, Whisler’s team took home multiple awards as they went up against some of the best riders in the region.

While some might use retirement to kick back and relax, Whisler has an apparent passion to stay as busy as he can.

“I work for a national police motorcycle products company called MotoLite and I travel to Police Motorcycle competitions all over the United States. I also have my own business teaching advance motorcycle riding techniques called Blue Line Motorcycle riding Academy. I’m also a pyrotechnician and do commercial firework shows, and I’m a contractor for KU Fire and Training Institute,” said Whisler.

Jeff says he rarely gets a weekend off, but he doesn’t seem to really mind.

“Throughout my career, I’ve had a tremendous opportunities and received a lot of very good training. I feel as any instructor should, when you receive good training it’s your responsibility to pass it along to others,” he said.

That knowledge is a powerful tool during uncertain times.