RCMP hope to increase presence in Old Perlican
RCMP opens office in Old Perlican municipal building
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.
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.”
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.