Dad's Army gets a bit smaller

BEN STRANG
Last updated 07:32 10/09/2012
Ron
Finishing up: Long time traffic cop Ron Walker is retiring after 36 years’ service.

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Kapiti Observer

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Kapiti's Dad's Army will shrink to two with long serving traffic Sergeant Ron Walker retiring this Wednesday, after 36 years as a police officer.

Mr Walker, 65, who started as a traffic officer under the Ministry of Transport in 1975, said the time is right to leave the police.

He leaves Senior Constables Kevin [Gunner] Reay and Tom Dredge as the only members of the old timer's group known as Dad's Army, although Mr Walker said Sergeant Mike George is an honorary member.

"Dad's Army was Gunner, Tom Dredge, Colin Abbott who passed away two years now, and then myself," he said.

"Mike George is there now. We call him Ernie, an honorary Ernie, because he is actually a policeman but he came over to the traffic group."

Mr Walker moved to New Zealand with his family from Scotland in 1963. Living in Christchurch, he found a job as a fitter and joiner.

After 12 years of working in a factory, he decided to join a friend as a traffic cop for the Ministry of Transport.

Joining up in 1975, he spent four years in Christchurch riding an 800cc bike, but was looking to get away from the cold weather.

"You're sitting there with all the gear on and everything, including a nappy around my neck to stop the water going down under my jacket.

"There used to be a fight in our house as to who had the nappies, the kids or me."

With the promise of a car with a heater in Reefton, Mr Walker moved to the West Coast for three years.

He was the sole traffic cop between Lewis Pass and Murchison.

By 1982 he had moved to Paekakariki, where he was the sole charge between Pukerua Bay and Tokomaru.

In 1986 he was promoted to sergeant and moved to Porirua, where he was based until 1993, a year after the Ministry of Transport traffic officers became full police officers.

"[In 1993] the district commander in Porirua sent me up here, because of all the fatals on the roads at that stage," he said.

"We got a good team together and started making some impact on it. It's just being seen, and taking action when necessary."

Mr Walker spent two years as part of the INCIS project, but left and returned to Kapiti just before the programme folded.

He said he enjoys being out and about meeting people, but did not like the paperwork that comes with the job.

Being a grandfather of one, with another on the way, Mr Walker said he won't be leaving Kapiti, but has few plans for the future.

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"I think I'll paint the house, and my wife will want me to do some gardening. I bloody hate gardening," he said.

"But I think my ideal retirement would be to just go and do some fishing."

Kapiti Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan said Mr Walker will be a huge loss to the police.

"I'd describe Ron as being like rust, he never sleeps. He's 24-7, completely dedicated," he said,

"There has never been a time when he has been off duty, gets a call to come in for a crash or something, and turned it down. He is always available to help."

Mr Walker's last day is on Wednesday.

A LIFETIME'S SERVICE

1975: Joins Ministry of Transport in Christchurch, riding 800cc bike

1979: Moves to Reefton in a car with a heater

1982: Transfers to Paekakariki, first stint in Kapiti

1986: Promoted to Sergeant and moved to Porirua

1992: Ministry of Transport merges with police

1993: Comes back to Kapiti to deal with fatal accidents

2012: Retires after 36 years as a traffic cop

- Kapiti Observer

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