Hometown Hero: James Walstrom

By Angie Koehle

Published 08/20 2014 01:23PM

Updated 08/20 2014 01:33PM

ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY - He's trained military dogs to help local police sniff out narcotics, put away thousands of drug dealers and helped turn around the lives of addicts.  But come Friday August 29th, no more cleaning up the streets.  Agent James Walstrom is cleaning out his office.

"I loved the job.  It's just time for me to move on and do something else," Walstrom said.

His knowledge surely helped him rise through the ranks to regional supervisor with the state attorney general's office, but he always stayed hands-on in the effort to eradicate the dealers, often barreling through doors during surprise middle-of-the-night raids.

"Thousands of entries and the only person who ever got hurt was me.  So those are all good things," he laughed.

Walstrom looks back and jokes about it now, but the 100 stitches in his arm isn't one of the best memories.  He says the relationships he made are what is hard to walk away from.

"You always miss the people and I'll miss the guys and girls I worked with.  A lot of them had a huge hand in the successes that I had.  I'll certainly miss those folks," he said.

Walstrom said he's proud of his more than 30 years of fighting crime.  The first 6 with the Altoona Police Department, the last 26 with the attorney general.  He helped to orchestrate a number of large scale drug busts of sometimes 30 or 40 suspects in a sweep.

But what he's not leaving is his work with police dogs. 

"My years in K-9, I'm most fond of that and I really enjoy handling a dog.  I still do that as a private business," he said.

As owner of Keystone K-9, he'll continue to train bomb and drug dogs, plus contract out his own. 

As for what else is next...

"There are a couple of jobs I've looked at and a couple of offers.  I don't think I'm going to sit home and watch 'Young and the Restless'," he laughed.  "But I don't know if I want to jump back into a full-time job right now, but if the opportunity is correct I would."

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