For longtime Windermere Police Chief David Ogden, the definition of success when he retires in the future is that the town’s police department would run perfectly without him and other people would have the opportunities to move up, progress and leave their own legacy.
With more than 35 years of law- enforcement experience, more than 27 with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in a multitude of high-ranking roles, Ogden’s legacy is hard to quantify.
However, his unique eye-catching table in his office in the new town facilities does a pretty good job.
The carefully crafted glass and wood table is home to more than 50 different police coins he has collected throughout his time in law enforcement, each with its own unique story.
Ogden said not only does the table serve as a great ice-breaker for good and bad conversations, but also it says more than any sum of words could.
“This tells my life story, you know, and kind of a legacy, because I started collecting these years ago,” he said. “It’s a part of my history — good, bad, indifferent, the trials and tribulations we’ve been through.”
Although some coins were handed to him, others were traded. The chief said when one is officially exchanging or presenting someone with a coin, it’s typically done through a formal handshake.
Challenge coins usually are meant to be discreet and have a special way of instilling pride in its recipient.
Being given a challenge coin represents camaraderie and unity. It proves membership of a certain group, and it honors the actions of those who receive them.
Ogden has led a successful transformation in the agency since he became chief in 2013.
As part of the rebuilding, Ogden was working to build a coin for the department. The coin sported the agency’s slogan: Honor, Integrity, Service, which the chief said is everything the agency aspires to be and is a large part of its value system.
The department was in the process of making the Windermere coin when Robert “Robbie” German was slain in the line of duty in 2014. Ogden said he had the honor of spending a significant time with German as the transitions of the department were taking place.
The agency immediately changed the coin to a memorial coin to honor its fallen officer, with one side sporting his name and his end of watch, March 22, 2014, with the Windermere badge across it as well as WI19, Windermere 19, which was German’s call sign, retired after he passed.
“This way, Robbie can be a part of the legacy forever,” Ogden said.
Other coins Ogden has played a part in are ones from the FBI Tampa Division Joint Terrorism Task Force, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Tactical Anti-Crime Unit, Valencia College, Regional Domestic Security Task Force which he still sits on, Traffic Enforcement, Department of Justice given to him by FBI Director Robert Mueller, Iron Men Ministry and many more.
The chief also has several memorial coins given to him by families or friends of loved ones lost such as German’s, OCSO Deputy Brandon Coates, who was shot and killed while making a traffic stop, and OCSO Motorcycle Deputy Norman Lewis, who was hit by a van while on patrol.
His first coin was his OCSO SWAT coin, with which he started in 1989 and served for about 14 years before retiring as a team leader. He said the new logo was developed while he was there and showcases five stars for the first five SWAT team members of the sheriff’s office team in 1974. The fire on the coin represents trial by fire; the sword represents the sword of justice; the shield represents the protection offered for the community; and the Latin lettering means “never doubt.” The officers know they could be giving up their lives and trust the person behind them has their back. If something does happen, that person would take care of their families for the rest of their lives.
“Everything on here has so many intricate meanings, and a lot of them do, whether you realize it when you first look at them or not,” Ogden said.
Some coins have numbers that are limited edition, while others have multiple copies.
In addition, the chief also has his own personalized coin he paid for and created.
The front has his name and one of his favorite sayings, “leadership is service, not titles,” while the back has five points of focus: prayer, vision, accountability, commitment and serving other people. The back also has the Bible verse Ephesians 6:10, which speaks of putting on the whole armor of God and being mentally, physically and spiritually ready for every day.
“Intrinsically what we do in our line of work has a spiritual aspect to it, which is to do good,” he said. “I think we’ve gotten away from that in our line of work and that’s a purpose value driven in your life. That’s important to understand that’s what we are trying to do.”
His most recent coin is the Windermere town facilities coin, which marked the special event of the new facilities opening last month.
Ogden said a lot of people tend to consider law enforcement like a second option when something like a professional sport doesn’t work out.
Ogden was a soccer player in high school and said he met a group of guys at the gym who started talking to him about law enforcement.
“I do believe right now we are needed in society,” he said. “Good police officers are needed.”
In Ogden’s time at the OCSO, he worked undercover, motors unit, DUI, traffic, training division and was a Central Florida Intelligence Exchange Director for all homeland security in the area.
Although Ogden thought he would be done with more than three decades of service under his belt, he said the town of Windermere keeps him passionate about police. The small town has a high level of service — 100 times higher than a bigger agency could ever have, he said.
“I love the town, I love the people, and I have a passion for this line of work and the young people,” he said. “I want to leave a legacy for the town and for the people here. It’s a small, close and quaint town, so we fight like family, but we also love like family.”
HISTORY OF CHALLENGE COINS
Although it is almost impossible to pinpoint when and where challenge coins originated, one story dates back to World War I, when a wealthy officer had bronze medallions struck with the flying squadron’s insignia to give to his men.
Some say one of the earliest challenge coins was minted by Colonel “Buffalo Bill” Quinn who had them made for his men during the Korean War. A hole was drilled in the top so the men could wear it around their necks instead of in a leather pouch.
Stories say the challenge began in Germany after World War II. Americans stationed there took up the local tradition of conducting “pfennig checks.” The pfennig was the lowest denomination of coin in Germany, and if you didn’t have one when a check was called, you were stuck buying the beers.