Two years ago, Larry Welch was newly retired from a 42-year teaching career and was looking for a way to continue his service to his community.
Since the 67-year-old had always been interested in crime and police work, he jumped in full force to volunteering for the Puyallup Police Department a few times a week.
Last week, he was honored as Puyallup Police Department’s volunteer of the year.
“He really jumped in with all fours,” said Lisa Isaacs, Crime Prevention coordinator for the department. “He started a block watch in his neighborhood, and has been very excited to keep busy since he first started with us.”
Since starting with the department as a volunteer, Welch has headed up a block watch in his neighborhood, sets up the department’s speed trailer, serves as the main fighting force behind eradicating graffiti in Puyallup, and orients all of the new volunteers for the department.
“It was a real nice surprise,” Welch said after he was announced as volunteer of the year, which was kept secret until the announcement.
After watching both of his parents work in the fire service, Welch didn’t want to stop giving back to his community now that the Puyallup resident is in his golden years.
“Teaching really is a giving profession,” he said. “So is fire service, police work and nursing, so I wanted to continue that giving once I retired. It’s extending from all my years of teaching.”
Welch estimates he spends about 20 hours per week volunteering at the department.
Isaacs says Welch looks for graffiti on his own time, outside of those 20 hours of volunteering.
“I don’t expected recognition for my work,” he said. “I was really surprised.”
He said the biggest thing he has learned about police work is that it’s not all fast and glamorous as its portrayed to be on television.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with everyone in the department,” he said.