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Hampstead has a new officer on the beat

Hampstead residents will be seeing a new face around town over the next few weeks. Officer Seth Wynkoop, the newest addition to the Hampstead Police Department, will be out with veteran officers learning the town and getting to know the people.

Wynkoop was sworn in as a Hampstead police officer by Mayor Chris Nevin at the Aug. 12 meeting of the Town Council, but would not begin serving in the town until completing his police academy training. After graduating Aug. 28, Wynkoop was ready to begin patrols around town as part of his post-graduation field training.

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"Field training is when you are riding around with an experienced officer and handling calls with them. They are there to teach you not only the town, but real world applications of the skills we learned in the academy," he said. "I'm excited to get started, to get out there serving the people of the town."

The Hampstead Police Department is happy to have Wynkoop on patrol as well, having lost an officer to a medical retirement early in 2014, according to Capt. Jay Gribbin.

"We're looking forward to having him; get him on the road and get back up to full staff for awhile," he said. "We're at full manpower now, nine sworn officers."

There are just more than 6,000 people in the Town of Hampstead, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but Wynkoop said he believes he is well suited to the style of community policing that is important in a small town. He understands that sort of community, because he grew up in one — Ellsworth, Mich. — where his graduating class in high school had all of 20 people in it.

Wynkoop also worked in the small town of Nashville, Mich., where he juggled two part-time police jobs before moving to Maryland in 2013 after his wife found a new job.

"I was applying to a multitude of places when I first moved out here," he said. "I had not seen that Hampstead was looking [for new officers] initially and I had interviewed with [the Carroll County Sheriff's Office] and they referred me to Hampstead. I would say definitely it was something I was looking for ... Just driving through Hampstead it felt like a nice town."

Even with his previous law enforcement experience, Wynkoop was required to undergo Maryland police academy training before becoming an active duty officer, his previous training not meeting the number of hours required by the state of Maryland, according to Gribbin. After his initial hiring, Wynkoop headed to the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission Academy in Sykesville on March 3 for 1,000 hours of training, according to his lead instructor, Deputy Dustin Boone, who said Wynkoop's previous law enforcement experience put him on good footing.

"He kind of hit the ground running immediately the first day and first week," Boone said. "He was the class leader [in the first week], sort of the liaison between the class and the instructors. From his having that previous law enforcement experience, he knew what we were looking for ... I think that previous experience helped him to excel."

There was still a lot to learn at the academy, according to Wynkoop, who said it was two months longer than the training he underwent in Michigan.

"I would have to say that not only are the training standards higher than Michigan's in terms of the amount of hours, it's probably more than most states out there," he said. "I would say that's a big thumbs up for Maryland in general. We are just better equipped to deal with any bad situation that arises, but also with community policing in general."

The candidate police officers in the academy may go into all difference kinds of police work, but Boone said that the small town police work Wynkoop has chosen to pursue is more challenging than it might at first seem.

"The way we describe it in the police world is that you are required to wear many hats," Boone said. "One day, we could be mister bad police officer writing the ticket, but the next day we could be writing that your loved one has passed away ... you have to be a counselor for families and you have to step right in. With [Wynkoop's] previous experience and personality, he has a very comprehensive attitude for reaching out and helping individuals in need. He can deliver what victims in the state of crisis need, especially in a small town like Hampstead."

There will be 10 weeks of field training for Wynkoop before he begins heading out for patrols in town on his own. He doesn't mind, and is not in any particular hurry — Hampstead is where he hopes to spend his career.

"What's nice about the small towns is that you get a lot of appreciation for your dedicating your career to them," he said. "I received a letter, not too long ago, from one of the council members thanking me for taking the position. It's really nice to have that family feel."

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Reach times staff writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com.

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