EARLY — Brand new police officers, Early Police Chief Audie “Junior” Pinson said, typically come into law enforcement wanting to save the world.

One day the officer realizes that’s just not possible, Pinson said. “So you want to make a difference in your little part of the world. Hopefully I’ve done that.”

Pinson, 54, will retire as police chief Dec. 31, ending a 25-year career in law enforcement, all with the Early department. He was appointed chief in 1998.

“It’s time to go,” Pinson said in an earlier interview. “It’s hard to know when the right time is, but it seems like you do know when it’s time. It’s been my life and who I am for that long.”

A retirement reception for Pinson will be from 1-3 p.m. Thursday at the Early City Hall.

Pinson grew up in Early and graduated from Early High School in 1971. He became interested in law enforcement as a high school student, but went to work at 3M after graduating.

Pinson became an unpaid reserve officer in 1980 and was hired as a full-time officer on Jan. 1, 1983.

He recalled a few memorable incidents.

His first year, he was asked to assist Ballinger police in a high-speed pursuit that was coming toward Brownwood. Near Bangs Hill, the suspect’s vehicle collided with Pinson’s patrol car. The suspect, who was intoxicated, was ejected and two or three months later the man died.

In 1998, Pinson was following school buses because of complaints that motorists were going around buses that were stopped to load or unload students. Pinson had stopped behind a bus when his patrol car was rear-ended by a woman traveling 55-60 mph.

His favorite aspect of law enforcement is the opportunity to help people, Pinson said.

His said his wife, Debbie, has been “my rock through my career. She’s a nurse and understands my dedication to my profession.”

Pinson said he’ll miss law enforcement. “It’s ingrained into your blood. After this long, you can’t be totally out of it,” he said.