NORTH DURHAM: After a 35-year career in law enforcement spanning two continents, local North Division police officer Ron Crouch will be hanging up his badge this week.
The veteran officer has been with Durham Regional Police since 1992 after beginning his career in law enforcement in his native England in 1978. Since 2002, Officer Crouch has worked out of DRPS’ North Division.
However, his journey to become a police officer began several years earlier.
"It was 1971, and human rights was in its infancy, so they turned me down because I was too short. Half an inch too short," said Officer Crouch.
So, instead Officer Crouch joined the Merchant Navy as a navigator, an adventure that allowed him the opportunity to see the world.
"I had this romantic idea of girls in grass skirts and tropical islands." recalled Officer Crouch "During the next six years I worked aboard oil tankers, including super tankers, general cargo ships and container ships. I never did meet any girls in grass skirts during that time, but I sure saw a lot of sea and a lot of desert and had many adventures along the way. My fondest memories are of navigating the Norwegian fjords."
In January 1978, Officer Crouch joined the Sussex Police, and was posted to the busy seaside town of Brighton for 11 years before spending an additional 18 months in the village of Storrington.
It was a turbulent time in the UK, and according to Officer Crouch, led to several violent incidents.
"Respect for the police was nonexistent. Just about every arrest resulted in a fight; few were willing to come quietly." Officer Crouch told The Standard. "This was the era of riots across the UK, including the almost decapitation of Constable Keith Blakelock during the Brixton riots."
In July of 1990, Officer Crouch arrived in Canada after 10 years of applications, but the trip was almost very short-lived.
"I almost went back in the first hour, because I ran into Canadian bureaucracy," said Officer Crouch.
After a series of jobs, and subsequent lay-offs led him to almost return to his native England after just 18 months, Officer Crouch was hired by Durham Regional Police, spending time in the Major Crimes Unit in Oshawa before heading to North Division in 2002.
Widely respected throughout the department, the interview with The Standard prior to his final night shift on the force was frequently interrupted by well-wishing comrades who came to pay respect to Officer Crouch.
"Ron genuinely wants to help people - even career criminals - he wants to get to the root of the problem so that he never has to see you again for the wrong reasons," said Constable Craig Mullen. "The compassion that he shows people, I haven’t seen in another officer that I’ve worked with."
According to Officer Mullen, the positive impact Officer Crouch has had on the community over his 11 years at North Division is evident everyday.
"Not a single day goes by that someone doesn’t stop to thank Ron for the things he’s done to help them and the way he’s treated them," added Officer Mullen.
Aside from his career in law enforcement, Officer Crouch is also an avid painter as well as a writer.
In recent years, Officer Crouch has self-published a children’s book and had two adult books published by Books We Love, a crime/romance novel set in Ontario and a crime mystery set in England. As retirement from the force looms, Officer Crouch is looking forward to publishing a memoir of his experiences over a 35-year career in policing.
In a career marked by highs and lows, it’s the camaraderie of the position that Officer Crouch will remember most fondly.
"What I think I’ll miss most is the banter and laughter in the locker room at the end of the shift between he crossover of the two platoons," Officer Crouch said. "And the old guys I sit with in the morning at McDonald’s."
His legacy of compassion for all people will live on through the efforts of those proud to have served alongside him with DRPS.
"Ron has taught me aspects of policing that I’ll carry over through my career and pass on to younger officers," Officer Mullen said. "Ron has made me a better police officer."