A veteran Delaware police officer will call it a career when he steps down this week.

A veteran Delaware police officer will call it a career when he steps down this week.

Police Capt. Pat Yankie will retire Wednesday, Aug. 1, after 33 years with the department.

The Greenfield native graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice before entering law school the same year at Ohio State University.

Though he was encouraged by his professors to stay in law school, Yankie decided to pursue a career in criminal justice. He worked as a security guard at Doctors Hospital in Columbus before joining the Delaware Police Department in 1979.

"I'd say the best thing about the job has been the people," Yankie said.

Yankie recalled a Christmas several years ago when a couple came into the police station to return a wad of $100 bills somebody had dropped on the ground.

"There was no way we were going to identify the person who had lost the money, but the couple felt that returning it to the police department was the right thing to do," he said. "There have been so many good people I've encountered."

The police held the money for the mandatory amount of time; when no one claimed it, Yankie returned it to the good Samaritans.

Yankie said he has felt at home in Delaware almost from the moment he accepted the job.

"I thought I might become a federal agent or a state highway patrolman," he said, "but I've always enjoyed my job so much that moving somewhere else wasn't a priority."

He's recognized most places he goes, even in plain clothes.

"I was shopping downtown with my wife on a Saturday morning and a guy said to me, 'How are you doing, Officer Yankie?' And my wife asked me, 'Who was that?' And I told her, 'Oh, I had to arrest him the other night.'

"Most of them understood that I was just doing my job. I tried to treat everyone with respect. I tried to talk to the people I arrested, to ask them if they knew what they were doing to themselves with drugs or alcohol or whatever."

Though the job had its rewards, it also took its toll.

"You see your officers arresting the kids of parents you arrested back in the day. It's a cycle that can be discouraging," Yankie said.

The veteran policeman said he did not discharge his weapon during his more than three decades on the force.

"I drew my weapon many times, but almost always the suspect would comply with my commands," he said.

On one frightening occasion, he had his gun pulled for him.

"We were answering a complaint from a father about his son, who was high on drugs. The son's fists were all balled up and he was ready to fight us, but he passed out and collapsed onto the floor," Yankie recalled.

"We'd had to climb down a narrow flight of steps and the EMS couldn't get him on a stretcher. We were helping carrying the kid down the steps when he regained consciousness and removed my weapon from its holster."

A second, maybe two, and a fierce struggle later, Yankie and his partner had disarmed him. It was probably as close as he ever came to losing his life in the line of duty, he said.

Not every situation Yankie encountered was deadly serious. Consider the infamous "cucumber Incident" of 1997.

"A man in Delaware had molested a woman's grandchild, and she took her revenge by tying him up and using the cucumber on him," he recalled.

"I was alone in the office with no administrative support on the day the information about the case was accidentally released to the press. There had been a court order. I was on the telephone with the media for the entire day," he said.

"And not just the local newspapers. I spoke to someone from Oprah and to the equivalent of the Associated Press in France. I was quoted in Playboy."

Delaware County Sheriff Russ Martin, one of seven Delaware police chiefs Yankie served under, said the department will have big shoes to fill when Yankie leaves.

"Losing Pat Yankie, the city of Delaware and its police department is losing a treasure, period," Martin said. "I've never known a harder-working person or a person more dedicated to Delaware."

Looking back at his career, Yankie had a question of his own:

"What you wonder all the time, I guess, is, 'Did I make a difference?' And you hope the answer to that question is, 'Yes.' "