RCMP aux­il­iary

Bay Roberts Sgt. Brent Hil­lier says re­cently shut down ser­vice es­sen­tial to reach­ing youth, pro­mot­ing safety

The Compass - - Front Page - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

There was a lot of dis­cus­sion at the May 31 Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil meet­ing about the RCMP aux­il­iary pro­gram.

Mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers from the Con­cep­tion Bay North area made a com­mit­ment Thurs­day night, May 31, to do their part in mak­ing sure there’s a fu­ture in the re­gion for RCMP aux­il­iary of­fi­cers.

That com­mit­ment was made in re­sponse to a per­sua­sive plea from Bay Roberts Sgt. Brent Hil­lier, who was present at the monthly meet­ing of the Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil. It was held at the Danny Cleary Har­bour Grace Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

“I’m ask­ing for as­sis­tance from all coun­cils and any­body who has in­put with the schools,” Hil­lier said. “Within this last month, our aux­il­iary pro­gram got shut down, be­cause they’re try­ing to de­ter­mine what sort of tiered sys­tem they’re go­ing to put the aux­il­iary sys­tems in.”

Aux­il­iary of­fi­cers are vol­un­teers who typ­i­cally go out into the com­mu­nity and look af­ter pre­sen­ta­tions with schools and com­mu­nity groups. In the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion area, these of­fi­cers have been in­volved in the D.A.R.E. pro­gram for drug aware­ness and dis­cussed bul­ly­ing and ATV safety, among other topics.

“These guys are in our schools — they’re hit­ting our tar­get au­di­ences,” Hil­lier said, not­ing too they make ac­tive duty of­fi­cers more ap­proach­able for young peo­ple. “And they’re not talk­ing about just your ATVs and drink­ing and driv­ing. They’re do­ing drug pre­sen­ta­tions to the kids, anti-bul­ly­ing, in­ter­net safety, re­la­tion­ship safety — any­thing that’s go­ing to pro­tect these kids.”

Ac­cord­ing to Hil­lier, in­sur­ance and li­a­bil­ity mat­ters are fac­tor­ing into the cur­rent shut­down of the ser­vice.

In Jan­uary of this year, the RCMP’s na­tional of­fice an­nounced it was pre­par­ing a new model for RCMP aux­il­iaries di­vided into three tiers. Tier one of­fi­cers would han­dle pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and com­mu­nity pre­sen­ta­tions, while tier two mem­bers would have peace of­fi­cer sta­tus and be able to as­sist with traf­fic con­trols and dis­as­ter as­sis­tance, amongst other things. Tier three, the high­est level, could in­volve gen­eral duty pa­trols, scene se­cu­rity and per­sonal searches. New uni­forms are also ex­pected.

Ac­cord­ing to Hil­lier, 89 per cent of the stu­dents in his 11 com­mu­ni­ties have wit­nessed a pre­sen­ta­tion in­volv­ing aux­il­iary mem­bers. He said they have a di­rect im­pact on in­creas­ing safety in the com­mu­nity. He specif­i­cally at­trib­uted a de­crease in ATV com­plaints and cabin break and en­ters to the work of aux­il­iary of­fi­cers.

In re­sponse to a re­quest for com­ment, a spokes­woman for RCMP provin­cial com­mand in­di­cated the re­view was prompted by the 2015 shoot­ing of Const. David Wynn and an aux­il­iary of­fi­cer, Const. Derek Bond, in Al­berta. Wynn was killed in the in­ci­dent.

“As this work nears com­ple­tion, and af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with the Govern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador’s Depart­ment of Jus­tice and Pub­lic Safety, RCMP NL will soon be­gin the re­newal of the Aux­il­iary Pro­gram,” she told The Com­pass.

The re­view it­self has fo­cused on the safety of both the pub­lic, vol­un­teers and po­lice.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the pa­tience of our vol­un­teers in the Aux­il­iary Pro­gram as we have been work­ing to de­velop a na­tional pro­gram that strikes a bal­ance be­tween safety and op­er­a­tions in a man­ner that meets the needs of our com­mu­ni­ties and pro­vides for the valu­able con­tri­bu­tions of our vol­un­teers,” she wrote. “We ex­pect to com­mu­ni­cate soon with these vol­un­teers to plan a meet­ing to share with them what the pro­gram will look like go­ing for­ward.“

The aux­il­iary of­fi­cers serving the Bay Roberts and Har­bour Grace de­tach­ments are based out of Holy­rood.

Hil­lier said the cur­rent shut­down is man­age­able in light of the work aux­il­iary mem­bers did in lo­cal schools over the last few months. How­ever, he said they will need to get back to stu­dents this fall.

“The schools love the po­lice,” Hil­lier said. “These guys are in there, they’re shak­ing hands with the kids. The kids love them, they’re show­ing the po­lice cars, and they’re rep­re­sent­ing us.”

Joint coun­cil unan­i­mously passed a mo­tion to write a let­ter voic­ing its sup­port for the aux­il­iary pro­gram. Sev­eral rep­re­sen­ta­tives of in­di­vid­ual coun­cils in­di­cated they’ll ad­vise their col­leagues to do the same at a lo­cal level.

ANDREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Bay Roberts RCMP Sgt. Brent Hil­lier, left, and Cpl. Steve Barker from the Har­bour Grace detachment ad­dressed mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers at the Thurs­day, May 31 Con­cep­tion Bay North Joint Coun­cil meet­ing in Har­bour Grace.

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