RCMP hope to in­crease pres­ence in Old Per­li­can

RCMP opens of­fice in Old Per­li­can mu­nic­i­pal build­ing

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tct

Trinity Con­cep­tion RCMP will use space in the Town of Old Per­li­can’s mu­nic­i­pal build­ing free of charge, with an eye to­wards in­creas­ing it vis­i­ble pres­ence in the area. Sgt. Richard Mar­shall ten­ta­tively hopes to have an of­fi­cer out there for vis­its on a weekly ba­sis.

It has been two years since an RCMP of­fice in Old Per­li­can closed, and some lo­cals have felt dis­con­nected from the Trinity Con­cep­tion de­tach­ment ever since.

But over the past month, an ef­fort has been made to change that. A down­stairs sec­tion of the town coun­cil build­ing has been des­ig­nated as an RCMP com­mu­nity polic­ing of­fice, and will be used by of­fi­cers in the area. The town coun­cil of­fered it free of charge.

“We had a wa­ter break in 2013, and we knew from (re­tired) Staff Sgt. Bud Bennett that fund­ing wasn’t go­ing to be avail­able,” Mayor Bruce But­ton told The Compass af­ter a cel­e­bra­tion held Tues­day, April 7, to open the of­fice. “I’m tick­led pink to be hon­est,” he later added. “The com­mu­nity didn’t want to see it go. If you lose it, you lose part of your com­mu­nity.”

Sgt. Richard Mar­shall and Const. Michelle Ouel­lette joined But­ton, coun­cil­lors, mu­nic­i­pal staff and chil­dren from the area for the event. For the kids, it was a chance to get to know some of their lo­cal po­lice of­fi­cers, and for the adults it was about hav­ing those of­fi­cers back in the area.

Cov­er­age area

The Trinity Con­cep­tion RCMP de­tach­ment cov­ers from Marys­vale in the south, north to Bay de Verde and as far west as Heart’s De­light-Is­ling­ton, serv­ing some 38,000 peo­ple.

There are two de­tach­ments in Har­bour Grace and Bay Roberts, both centrally lo­cated in the re­gion. It is ap­prox­i­mately a one­hour drive from the Har­bour Grace de­tach­ment to Old Per­li­can. Hav­ing the of­fice open will give of­fi­cers the op­por­tu­nity to visit the town more of­ten.

Some of those in at­ten­dance said there have been long pe­ri­ods of time be­tween see­ing one po­lice car and the next. It could some­times be weeks, one per­son noted.

Mar­shall con­firmed a po­lice pres­ence isn’t al­ways vis­i­ble on the tip of the Bay de Verde Penin­sula, but he and Staff Sgt. Greg Hicks are hop­ing the new of­fice will help change that.

“The ex­pec­ta­tion is to have some­one up here (at the of­fice) once a week, if not more,” Mar­shall ex­plained.

Chil­dren ques­tion sergeant

Be­fore the cel­e­bra­tion be­gan, the chil­dren were at the Old Per- li­can Public Li­brary, up­stairs in the mu­nic­i­pal build­ing. They were play­ing games and telling sto­ries when Mar­shall made an ap­pear­ance.

Sit­ting in a cir­cle on a colour­ful car­pet of num­bers and let­ters, Mar­shall joined the young­sters in a game. But af­ter break­ing the ice, the kids had an op­por­tu­nity to ask the sergeant ques­tions about his job. The con­ver­sa­tion helped give chil­dren and adults in the room an idea of what po­lice of­fi­cers can do in the com­mu­nity.

Some of the ques­tions were typ­i­cal of what you’d ex­pect from kids, like, “Have you ever used your gun?” and “How many peo­ple have you ar­rested?”

“I’ve used my gun in West­ern New­found­land for moose,” Mar­shall said.

An­other child piped up, and asked if they could see the gun.

Mar­shall thought it was a good time to show them some of the tools he uses in his job.

Although he never re­moved the gun from his hol­ster, he al­lowed the kids to look at it from their seats. He took out his hand­cuffs, his ba­ton and showed them where he keeps his pep­per spray and ex­tra bul­lets. He also in­formed them of the age they would be al­lowed to get a per­mit for a gun — 16 for smaller guns to hunt small game and 18 for large ri­fles for larger game.

But it wasn’t just about giv­ing the kids a glimpse into his life as a po­lice of­fi­cer. Mar­shall em­pha­sized how im­por­tant it was for young peo­ple to see po­lice of­fi­cers as helpers, and not as peo­ple who will get them in trou­ble.

“When you see a po­lice man or woman, you should come over and say hi,” he told the group.

When the kids left af­ter the cel­e­bra­tion, they ap­peared gen­uinely happy they got to meet real po­lice of­fi­cers.

“It’s more of a per­sonal level than we were be­fore,” But­ton noted. “This is the at­ti­tude they (Mar­shall and Hicks) have. It’s re­ally good for the kids.”

PHOTO BY MELISSA JENK­INS/THE COMPASS

Sgt. Richard Mar­shall of the Trinity Con­cep­tion RCMP plays a game with some chil­dren at the Old Per­li­can Public Li­brary. Those tak­ing part in the game are (clock­wise) — Mar­shall (cen­tre), Reid Court­ney, Tyson Squires, Jes­sica Eddy, Ne­vaeh Eddy, Abby Noel, Cas­sidy Green, Colby Lay­man, Old Per­li­can recre­ation direc­tor Kelly Rodgers, Tren­ton Far­row and Old Per­li­can recre­ation as­sis­tant Karen Ivany. Miss­ing from photo are Liam Hop­kins, Blake Court­ney and Allyah Hatch.

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