Former Zag Winston Brooks In A Different Kind Of Uniform
SPOKANE, Wash. – Winston Brooks wore the Bulldog men’s basketball uniform for two seasons from 2002-03, helping Gonzaga University build on what has become one of the most remarkable stories in collegiate annals.
Today, he’s in a different kind of uniform.
Brooks and four others were sworn in Tuesday as Spokane Police Officers in a ceremony held at the Spokane Police Academy with Spokane Police Chief Frank G. Straub, Jr. doing the honors.
On hand for the ceremony was Brooks wife Treasure (daughter Cassie and son Quincy were in school), his mother Charlene Gresham, and brothers Jesse Gresham, Jamar Smith and Joshua Gresham– all of whom now call Spokane home.
A contingent of Gonzaga well wishers were on hand, including athletic director Mike Roth, Associate Athletic Director Steve Hertz, administrative assistant/office manager Gayle Clayton, strength and conditioning coach Mike Nilson, men’s basketball operations Jerry Krause and former Bulldog basketball standout John Stockton.
Brooks is ecstatic about joining the SPD.
“I can’t even explain it. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to come back to my home now and serve the community," Brooks said following the ceremony.
The Richmond, Va., native who originally came west to attend North Idaho College and then on to Gonzaga, said a couple of factors played in role in his decision to become a policeman.
“I had a couple of influences. My daughter’s Godfather, Brad Richmond, is a Spokane County detective. He influenced me early on to come back and give back to the community. I met a lot of nice officers and I saw the job they were doing, how they had an influence in the community and I thought I wanted to join that group,” Brooks recalled.
He’s spent the past four years on the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, force across the border from Spokane, and prior to that was a Spokane County juvenile corrections officer for two years.
Brooks said the greatest satisfaction from being an officer is helping people.
“I get to help people. Most people don’t understand officers are not just there to arrest. We are there to help people as well. When I get to help, see smiles, give hugs; that's the greatest part about it,” he said with a smile.
The worst part?
“The criminals, the bad part. Dealing with some of those other people; that goes home with you sometimes,” he confessed.
He did training for three months in Idaho and has to go across the state of Washington to Burien for a couple of days and then complete and 8-week online course.
“I’m going to start on the 26th (November) on patrol the south hill and then after a couple of months I’ll be on the north side so when I’m by GU I’ll come by and drive my car into the gym,” he laughed.
Brooks said athletics played a large role in preparing him for his career, and he said being an officer is, to him, the closest thing he could do to being a professional athlete. There’s a passion in what Brooks does as an officer like there’s a passion a dedicated athlete has to do his or her best.
“When I’m getting ready for a shift I go into the lockerroom, like the guys going into the lockerroom. I put on my uniform like they put on their game uniform. I walk out and sit in briefing. It reminds me of when Coach (Mark) Few talked to us before the games and Coach (former GU baseball coach Steve) Hertz use to talk to us after the game. I equate that to playing. I have to be mentally ready like the guys as well. It’s almost like playing the game,” Brooks said of his workday routine.
Athletics made him very competitive, a trait he carries into being an officer of the law.
“It’s made me very competitive. Playing at that level you have to be competitive and put your best effort out every day. If you don’t as a police officer, obviously the worst can happen. The competitive nature, the competitive background of what I learned in college has helped me in this profession,” he explained.
And the camaraderie of a group of officers is no different than a group of athletes.
“It’s the same,” Brooks said of the team camaraderie on the force. “That’s why I equate this to being a college athlete, or even a pro. We do everything together. We eat together, our families spend time together, we work together, we change and do everything just like any professional sports team and it feels great.”
Asked about the reaction of his mother and wife when he informed them years ago of his desire to be a cop, he said “she (mother) was happy, kind of nervous; the wife as well. They were both nervous but they know I am safe, competitive and want to go home at night,” he said.
And he will soon go home proudly wearing the uniform of the Spokane Police Department.
Welcome home, Winston.
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