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Harbour Grace officer likes having a community presence

Const. Walter Pynn has worked as a police officer for 32 years. He's served with the RCMP out of his hometown detachment in Harbour Grace since 1998.
Const. Walter Pynn has worked as a police officer for 32 years. He's served with the RCMP out of his hometown detachment in Harbour Grace since 1998.

HARBOUR GRACE — You could almost say Walter Pynn was destined to find his way into a police uniform. 

A 32-year veteran who has spent the last 19 based out of his hometown detachment in Harbour Grace, Pynn grew up in a house alongside the old police station next to the post office. His dad Eric Pynn was a special constable with the RCMP in the 1960s, and he also has a sister, Sgt. Erica Pynn, working with the RCMP in Halifax.

"It's kind of family related," he said with respect to his chosen profession.

Last week, Pynn was named a finalist for the 2017 Police and Peace Officer of the Year Awards. He's one of three finalists for the award dedicated to RCMP officers. Crime Stoppers of Newfoundland and Labrador presents the awards annually.

Const. Walter Pynn is seen here escorting a prisoner outside Harbour Grace Provincial Court.

"I was honoured that someone would present my name, but again, some of the things I do, I just naturally do it — it's me," Pynn told The Compass. "Helping people, that’s what we're here for, and it's my everyday routine. I'm thankful and grateful at the same time (for being a finalist), but it's something that we do."

Pynn started his career with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. He left the RNC in 1991 and joined the City of Moncton's municipal police force in New Brunswick. He then moved back to Newfoundland in 1998 to serve with the RCMP.

"We're no different than anyone else, and we're here to help, we're here to police, and not everybody likes the results of the police as per se, but it's a tough business."

That help not only applies to victims of crime calling the police for assistance. In some cases, officers like Pynn can have an impact on people who find themselves in trouble with the law.

"There's potential in every person, and sometimes you have to seek that out," he said. "If someone comes to me for help, I'm here to help. Sometimes you need guidance. We all do."

While he's witnessed a lot of change over the years in policing, Pynn believes there will always be a need to emphasis the community aspect of his work.

"They have to know who we are, where we are, and all that stuff," he said. "My phone is on 24-7. People call me all the time, and it's like a hotline at times. The big thing with it is you have to know who is who. I'll help someone today not because I'm looking for something, but later on I'll reap the benefits when I'm not waiting for it.

"Not that long ago I needed information, and of course people are free to give it to you because you're helpful. Not because you're asking — it's because they want to. And I'm not forcing their hand to give me information. They're coming to me, and that makes a difference."

Working in the town you grew up in has its perks, as Pynn finds there's an ingrained sense of familiarity.

"I'm part of the community. I grew up (here), I know most of the people here, and I think I've got their respect. And that means a lot."

With such a lengthy career already in the rearview mirror, Pynn admits time is creeping up on him. But that doesn't mean he's ready to retire.

"I've still got some more years left in me, and I still want to go, and I don't mind getting out and doing the footwork. So when it gets to a point that I can't do it anymore, then I'll think about retiring. But 32 years has passed by so fast — it's unreal."

The 2017 Police and Peace Officer of the Year Awards will be presented May 19 in Conception Bay South.

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