BOISE, Idaho — In 2000, the Boise Police Department unveiled a new unit, Jonny Law, made up of four officers, including Ron Winegar, who was a sergeant at the time but now is the deputy police chief and was Boise's interim police chief for a time.
Jonny Law was a rock band made of officers who traded their nightsticks for drum sticks and their handcuffs for guitar picks.
In 2001, Jonny Law went to South Junior High School to share their musical message.
Sergeant Winegar, Detective Lee Reiber, and motorcycle cop Fred Schultz were part of what frontman Kent Lipple called "four cops in a mid-life crisis."
For the officers, rocking out during a school assembly makes them more approachable.
"It was all about being a cop, really," Winegar said. "It was formed at a time when relationships were strained to say the least and it was a tough time in our community in the late 90s and we were talking one night after a swing shift down in the basement, so it's like two in the morning, and talking about, 'Man, what could we do to make things better?' and Kent Lipple was like, 'We should start a band.'"
The band stayed together for a decade but the band started to dwindle down for the next five years. During their 15-year run, Jonny Law played more than 100 shows for over 80,000 children.
Winegar told The 208 they even had an album named "APB" and they made about a thousand CDs of their album but only a handful remain.
"When I think back to the mid-90s and then where we are today in terms of relationships with our community, you can't really point your finger at one thing that turned the tide if you will but I think that there were a lot of things that showed that our outreach efforts paid off and when we connected with, especially youth and that generation that grew up," Winegar explained, "I think there was a level of trust and understanding and they realized we're real people and that's what we were really trying to accomplish and I think we did."
While Jonny Law hasn't been center stage in over five years, a reunion may be on the way.
"I don't want to give anything away," Winegar said, "but I have talked to a couple of the members of the band, and said 'what if we played a gig at a retirement party coming up in September?' and they were like 'Yeah, that would be fun!' so we'll see."
If there is a reunion, it will be a VIP invite-only.
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